What’s the Evidence for “Mindfulness Meditation”?

In 2004, Bishop et al. noted that mindfulness was popularized in psychological practice by a poorly-studied (Bishop, 2002) intervention combining yoga and meditation called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Observing that mindfulness is not limited to meditation, they went on to separate the two, proposing an empirical definition of mindfulness as a metacognitive skill and a process of self-observation involving attentional control. Yet twenty years later, mindfulness and meditation appear inextricably linked in the literature, not to mention in popular practice, where it has seen a resurgence in recent years.

One could argue that as long as it does no harm, it is fine; yet adverse events in meditation interventions based on mindfulness have been reported (Mitchell et al., 2018).

Is there reliable evidence for the promotion of mindfulness in the form of “mindfulness meditation” or is it just another fad?


Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., … & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 11(3), 230. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1093/clipsy.bph077

Bishop, S. R. (2002). What do we really know about mindfulness-based stress reduction?. Psychosomatic medicine, 64(1), 71-83. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1097/00006842-200201000-00010

Mitchell, J. T., Bates, A., & Zylowska, L. (2018). Adverse events in mindfulness-based interventions for ADHD. The ADHD Report, 26(2), 15-18. https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/adhd.2018.26.2.15

Image credit: Man Standing On Mountain Looking Down The Valley by Scopio from NounProject.com

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