During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being, widely implemented educational practice, and “key to building more resilient soldiers.” Yet the mindfulness movement and empirical evidence supporting it have not gone without criticism. Misinformation and poor methodology associated with past studies of mindfulness may lead public consumers to be harmed, misled, and disappointed. Addressing such concerns, the present article [resulting from this Think Tank grant] discusses the difficulties of defining mindfulness, delineates the proper scope of research into mindfulness practices, and explicates crucial methodological issues for interpreting results from investigations of mindfulness. For doing so, the authors draw on their diverse areas of expertise to review the present state of mindfulness research, comprehensively summarizing what we do and do not know, while providing a prescriptive agenda for contemplative science, with a particular focus on assessment, mindfulness training, possible adverse effects, and intersection with brain imaging. Our goals are to inform interested scientists, the news media, and the public, to minimize harm, curb poor research practices, and staunch the flow of misinformation about the benefits, costs, and future prospects of mindfulness meditation.


Marieke van Vugt, PhD

University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Grantee, Reviewer

Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Bernoulli Institute of Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). She obtained her PhD in neuroscience … MORE


Marieke van Vugt, PhD

University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Grantee, Reviewer

Andrew Olendzki, D.Phil.

Integrated Dharma Institute


Ted Meissner

Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School

David Vago, PhD

Vanderbilt University

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee, Planning Committee Member, Reviewer

Willoughby Britton, PhD

Brown University

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee, Planning Committee Member

Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, PhD

School of Medicine, West Virginia University

Fellow, Grantee, Reviewer

Brent A. Field, PhD

Fellow, Planning Committee Member

Sara Lazar, PhD

Harvard University


Nicholas Van Dam, PhD

University of Melbourne, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Fellow, Grantee, Reviewer

Laura Schmalzl, PhD

Southern California University of Health Sciences

Convening Faculty, Grantee, Reviewer

David Meyer, PhD

University of Michigan

Fellow, Planning Committee Member

Clifford Saron, PhD

University of California, Davis

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Planning Committee Member

Catherine Kerr, PhD

Brown University

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee