Mind & Life is excited to share the special issue on Mindfulness, published in Current Opinion in Psychology earlier this month. This compilation showcases the work of many in the Mind & Life academic community. The authors have received grants, served on committees, attended events, presented at conferences, participated as Fellows, and been active with the Mind & Life Institute and our sister organization Mind & Life Europe in myriad ways. In their introduction to the issue, editors Amit Bernstein, Dave Vago, and Thorsten Barnhofer name the Mind & Life Institute’s grants and activities as “a catalyst for the emergence and ongoing growth of a network of contemplative scholars, scientists, monastics, and practitioners.” We are deeply grateful to these authors and our entire community for joining us in this work.
The editors write about the issue: “The project is exciting—it reflects a global, field-wide collaboration among a large number of scholars across the full spectrum of disciplines exploring mindfulness.” It certainly is a rich resource for understanding the field now, and as the editors say, “it may also provide a map for mindfulness science and practice in the coming years.”
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. As meditation practices have been adopted into Western culture, popular and scientific interest in mindfulness has burgeoned. Whereas a total of 39 scientific papers were published before the year 2000, today that number is a staggering 6,000+ 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 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. Mind & Life community members and researchers Amit Bernstein, (University of Haifa, Israel), David Vago, (Vanderbilt University Medical Center), and Thorsten Barnhofer, (University of Surrey, England), invited over 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. They have now published this integrated project as a special issue in the esteemed journal Current Opinion in Psychology. It is the largest such field-wide project since mindfulness research began over two decades ago.
The editors shared, “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.” Here at Mind & Life, we echo that hope through our commitment to catalyzing the field in ways that inspire action towards individual and societal flourishing.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the editors and authors for sharing their knowledge in this way, and for all their continued work in this growing field. Read the special issue here or at the link below. All articles are free to view and download through October 30th, 2019. We hope you enjoy the issue as much as we do!