From PsychEvos Wiki

Definition and Origins

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It can be defined as a theoretical construct, a state or disposition of being mindful, and as a practice or process. It has also been seen alternately as an ethical and moral belief or a secularized practice or program. Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years, involved in various religious and secular traditions, from Hinduism and Buddhism to yoga and more recently, non-religious meditation.[1] [2]

Evolution in Western Psychology

Mindfulness appeared in the United States through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medication emeritus and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in 1979, which includes training in mindfulness meditation and yoga, initially designed for patients with chronic pain. His approach was later adapted into other programs like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). These "Third Wave" cognitive behavioral therapies incorporated mindful acceptance of dysphoric and dysfunctional thoughts and feelings, as opposed to disputing irrational cognitions, which was the focus of traditional cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT).[3] [4]

Applications in Psychotherapy

Research suggests that mindfulness practices offer psychotherapists a way of positively affecting aspects of therapy that account for successful treatment. Mindfulness-based interventions have been found effective in treating a variety of psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. These practices work by enhancing clients' ability to regulate emotions, reduce reactivity to distressing thoughts and feelings, and improve interpersonal relationships, which in turn can facilitate therapeutic change.[5]

Neural Mechanisms

Neuroscientific research has begun to investigate mindfulness' impact on brain functioning and structure. Studies have shown that regular mindfulness meditation is associated with changes in neural pathways and brain regions involved in attention, emotional regulation, and self-awareness. In particular, mindfulness practices have been linked to increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, which specializes in executive functions such as planning, decision-making, and impulse control. Additionally, long-term meditation has been associated with increased cortical thickness in brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing.[6]


Mindfulness has its roots in ancient religious and secular traditions and has evolved into a widely-used practice in modern Western psychology. It has been successfully integrated into psychotherapy, showing effectiveness in treating various psychological disorders. Neuroscientific evidence supports the idea that mindfulness practice can have a positive impact on brain functioning, particularly in areas related to attention, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.