For more than 25 centuries, historical teachings of the Buddha traveled across the people, languages, and cultures of the world. Mindfulness – commonly described as attention to and awareness of present moment experience – is at the heart of these teachings. Remarkably, over the past two decades, popular and scientific interest in mindfulness has seen a resurgence. Whereas a total of 39 scientific papers were published before the year 2000, today that number is a staggering 6000 papers. Likewise, mindfulness practices and interventions have innervated nearly every sector of society including health care, schools, corporations, corrections, government and policy making, military, social justice movements, and mobile applications with reach and access to millions of new practitioners.
Yet, in recent years, critical voices have emerged asking, broadly, whether the applications of mindfulness have gotten ahead of the evidence. Scholars, scientists and practitioners have been and continue to push the field forward while also working to temper the hype and oversimplification of mindfulness research findings.
Accordingly, three researchers, across three continents, set out to take stock and map the state of the field. Amit Bernstein, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Observing Minds Lab at the University of Haifa, Israel, David Vago, PhD, Research Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine (CNIM) Laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Thorsten Barnhofer, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Surrey, invited more than 100 scholars to write 57 papers critically reflecting on the extant data. Together, they sought to bring attention to critical concerns facing the field, accurate and tempered interpretations of existing data and findings, and to highlight developments across domains of contemporary mindfulness science and practice. IONS Scientist Arnaud Delorme was honored to be included among the renowned scholars invited to submit papers for this collection. They have now published this large project as a special issue in the esteemed Current Opinions in Psychology. It is the largest ever such field-wide project since the emergence of a science of mindfulness two decades ago. You can find Dr. Delorme’s paper “When the Meditating Mind Wanders” in the Cognitive Processes section.
The editors shared, “The project is exciting, and has the potential to be important, in a number of respects. Primarily, the project reflects a global, field-wide collaboration among a large number of scholars – across the full spectrum of disciplines exploring mindfulness. It not only can provide a rich resource for students, scholars and practitioners interested in mindfulness now and for several years, but it may also provide a map for mindfulness science and practice in the coming years.” “We hoped that bringing together many of the field’s leading scholars could help to guide, challenge, and inspire the next generation of science, practice, and ethical and evidence-based social applications and implementation of mindfulness and, thereby, promote the most social good.”
All articles from the special issue are free to the public until October 30, 2019: