Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16, 213–225. doi:10.1038/nrn3916. Abstract (including 180 references). Full text at lead author’s website.
Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation — practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health — exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects.
However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.
Tan, L., & Martin, G. (2014). Taming the adolescent mind: a randomised controlled trial examining clinical efficacy of an adolescent mindfulness‐based group programme. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Published online before inclusion in an issue.
Excerpted from Abstract. Mindfulness interventions with adolescents are in the early stages of development. This study sought to establish efficacy of a mindfulness-based group intervention for adolescents with mixed mental health disorders.
One hundred and eight adolescents (ages 13–18) were recruited from community mental health clinics and randomised into two groups (control vs. treatment). All participants received treatment-as-usual (TAU) from clinic-based therapists independent of the study. Adolescents in the treatment condition received TAU plus a 5-week mindfulness-training programme (TAU+Mi); adolescents in the control group received only TAU. Assessments including parent/carer reports were conducted at baseline, postintervention and 3-month follow-up.
At postintervention, adolescents in the mindfulness condition experienced significant decrease in mental distress compared to the control group, and these gains were enhanced at 3-month follow-up. Overall outcomes at 3 months showed significant improvement for adolescents in the mindfulness condition; in self-esteem, mindfulness, psychological inflexibility and mental health, but not resilience. Parents/carers also reported significant improvement in their adolescent’s psychological functioning. Mediation analyses concluded mindfulness mediated mental health outcomes.
Increase in mindful awareness after training leads to improvement in mental health and this is consistent with mindfulness theory. The mindfulness group programme appears to be a promising adjunctive therapeutic approach for clinic-based adolescents with mental health problems.