This is what I heard— At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, where they have a city called Kammāsadhamma. There the Buddha addressed the monastics: “Monastics!” “Venerable sir”, they replied. The Buddha said this:
“Monastics, this is the path where all things come together as one, to purify sentient beings, to make an end of pain and sadness, to get past sorrow and lamentation, to reach the way, to witness Nibbāna; that is, the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.
What four? Here, a monastic meditates by observing an aspect of the body, keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate by observing an aspect of feelings, keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate by observing an aspect of the mind, keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate by observing an aspect of principles, keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
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.
The publisher’s final edited version of this article is available at Clin Psychol Rev
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Within the past few decades, there has been a surge of interest in the investigation of mindfulness as a psychological construct and as a form of clinical intervention. This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness on psychological health. We begin with a discussion of the construct of mindfulness, differences between Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness, and how mindfulness has been integrated into Western medicine and psychology, before reviewing three areas of empirical research: cross-sectional, correlational research on the associations between mindfulness and various indicators of psychological health; intervention research on the effects of mindfulness-oriented interventions on psychological health; and laboratory-based, experimental research on the immediate effects of mindfulness inductions on emotional and behavioral functioning. We conclude that mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation. The review ends with a discussion on mechanisms of change of mindfulness interventions and suggested directions for future research.