There have been hundreds of scientific studies showing that mindfulness practice can be a powerful adjunct to conventional medical treatment for a variety of medical and mental-health related conditions and changes in brain and immune function have been noted. Studies have also looked at Quality of Life Indicators such as an individual’s ability to function in their lives, reduction of stress, and psychological well-being.
TED X Cambridge – Sara Lazar on How Meditation Can Change Your Brain
Below are links where you can find more details:
How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body (NY Times, Gretchen Reynolds)
A study published in Biological Psychiatry brings scientific thoroughness to mindfulness meditation and for the first time shows that, unlike a placebo, it can change the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health. Follow-up brain scans showed differences in only those who underwent mindfulness meditation. There was more activity, or communication, among the portions of their brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm. Four months later, those who had practiced mindfulness showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the relaxation group, even though few were still meditating.
This site provides an extensive list of evidence-based research including clinical applications of mindfulness for specific health-related conditions and generic research into mindfulness.
Mindfulness Resource Guide
This is a comprehensive database that provides information on the scientific study of mindfulness and also publishes a newsletter with the latest advances in mindfulness research and practice (Mindfulness Research Monthly).
UMass Center for Mindfulness
This site has a selective bibliography of studies related to MBSR
In these studies, MBSR training decreased stress, ruminative thinking and trait anxiety, and also increased empathy and self-compassion.
Compassion Fatigue and Burnout
A research study examined the effects of MBSR on job burnout and psychological distress in health care professionals currently involved in clinical work.
Mindfulness practice was found to be associated with improved sleep and participants experienced a decrease in sleep-interfering cognitive processes.
Chronic Illness and Cancer
Studies show improved psychological health with a decrease in mood disturbance, higher levels of attentiveness, and less rumination in cancer patients. Depression, anxiety, and psychological distress were decreased in people with chronic disease and ability to cope with distress and disability was enhanced.
Anxiety and Depression
Mindfulness training was associated with a substantial reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The authors conclude that a mindfulness meditation program enhanced functional status and well-being and reduced physical symptoms and psychological distress in a heterogeneous patient population and that the intervention may have long-term beneficial effects.
Brain and Immune Function Alterations
Findings show that mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function and increases gray matter concentration in areas involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation, self-referential processing and perspective taking.
The combat veterans group who participated in mindfulness training group saw improvements in PTSD symptoms, whereas the control group did not.