Sevinc G, Greenberg J, Hölzel BK, Gard T, Calahan T, Brunsch V, Hashmi JA, Vangel M, Orr SP, Milad MR, et al. Hippocampal circuits underlie improvements in self‐reported anxiety following mindfulness training. Brain and Behavior. 2020;10 (9) :e01766. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mindfulness meditation has successfully been applied to cultivate skills in self‐regulation of emotion, as it employs the unbiased present moment awareness of experience. This heightened attention to and awareness of sensory experience has been postulated to create an optimal therapeutic exposure condition and thereby improve extinction learning. We recently demonstrated increased connectivity in hippocampal circuits during the contextual retrieval of extinction memory following mindfulness training.
Sevinc G, Lazar SW. How does mindfulness training improve moral cognition: a theoretical and experimental framework for the study of embodied ethics. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2019;28 :268-272. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mindfulness meditation has been primarily studied within the context of individual's psychological well being and/or in relation to it's potential to enhance cognitive skills such as attention and working memory. However, in Buddhism, mindfulness is used as a tool to cultivate wholesome actions, and as a means to promote virtuous, prosocial qualities. In this article, we postulate that heightened awareness of physiological and mental phenomena following mindfulness training may contribute to altered processing of morally relevant information and promote moral action. We will first briefly summarize neuroscientific investigations into moral cognition, and then provide a theoretical and an experimental framework for the investigation of the relationship between mindfulness and ethical behavior.
Sevinc G, Hölzel BK, Greenberg J, Gard T, Brunsch V, Hashmi JA, Vangel M, Orr SP, Milad MR, Lazar SW. Strengthened Hippocampal Circuits Underlie Enhanced Retrieval of Extinguished Fear Memories Following Mindfulness Training. Biological Psychiatry. 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

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The role of hippocampus in context-dependent recall of extinction is well recognized. However, little is known about how intervention-induced changes in hippocampal networks relate to improvements in extinction learning. In this study, we hypothesized that mindfulness training creates an optimal exposure condition by heightening attention and awareness of present moment sensory experience, leading to enhanced extinction learning, improved emotion regulation, and reduced anxiety symptoms.


We tested this hypothesis in a randomized controlled longitudinal study design using a 2-day fear conditioning and extinction protocol. The mindfulness training group included 42 participants (28 female) and the control group included 25 participants (15 female).


We show that mindfulness training is associated with differential engagement of the right supramarginal gyrus as well as hippocampal-cortical reorganization. We also report enhanced hippocampal connectivity to primary sensory cortex during retrieval of extinguished stimuli following mindfulness training.


These findings suggest hippocampal dependent changes in contextual retrieval as one plausible neural mechanism through which mindfulness-based interventions enhance fear extinction and foster stress resilience.

Greenberg J, Romero VL, Elkin-Frankston S, Bezdek MA, Schumacher EH, Lazar SW. Reduced interference in working memory following mindfulness training is associated with increases in hippocampal volume. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 2019;13 (2) :366-376. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Proactive interference occurs when previously relevant information interferes with retaining newer material. Overcoming proactive interference has been linked to the hippocampus and deemed critical for cognitive functioning. However, little is known about whether and how this ability can be improved or about the neural correlates of such improvement. Mindfulness training emphasizes focusing on the present moment and minimizing distraction from competing thoughts and memories. It improves working memory and increases hippocampal density. The current study examined whether mindfulness training reduces proactive interference in working memory and whether such improvements are associated with changes in hippocampal volume. 79 participants were randomized to a 4-week web-based mindfulness training program or a similarly structured creative writing active control program. The mindfulness group exhibited lower proactive interference error rates compared to the active control group following training. No group differences were found in hippocampal volume, yet proactive interference improvements following mindfulness training were significantly associated with volume increases in the left hippocampus. These results provide the first evidence to suggest that (1) mindfulness training can protect against proactive interference, and (2) that these benefits are related to hippocampal volumetric increases. Clinical implications regarding the application of mindfulness training in conditions characterized by impairments to working memory and reduced hippocampal volume such as aging, depression, PTSD, and childhood adversity are discussed.
Vago DR, Gupta RS, Lazar SW. Measuring Cognitive Outcomes in Mindfulness-based Intervention Research: A Reflection on Confounding Factors and Methodological Limitations. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2018;28 :143-150.Abstract
One potential pathway by which mindfulness-based meditation improves health outcomes is through changes in cognitive functioning. Here, we summarize and comment upon three systematic reviews conducted over the last seven years that have had the goal of identifying the impact of mindfulness on cognitive outcomes. In our analysis, we identified a number of methodological limitations and potential confounding factors that interfere with and limit our ability to interpret the results. In order to gain a granular view of the relationship between mindfulness training and cognition, we report on the following: 1) What do we know? How does mindfulness affect cognition? 2) variable criteria that define an MBI; 2) limitations of assays used to measure cognition; and 3) methodological quality of an MBI trial and reporting of findings. Finally, we offer constructive means for interpretation and recommendations for moving the field of mindfulness research forward regarding effects on cognition.
Greenberg J, Braun TD, Schneider ML, Finkelstein-Fox L, Conboy LA, Schifano ED, Park C, Lazar SW. Is less more? A randomized comparison of home practice in a mind-body program. Behaviour research and therapy. 2018;111 :52-56. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Home practice is a major component of mind-body programs, yet little is known about how to optimize the amount of prescribed home practice in order to achieve an effective “dose” of practice while minimizing participant burden. This study tested how varying the amount of home practice in a mind-body program impacts compliance and stress reduction, and whether prescribing a flexible home practice schedule increases compliance. Eighty-four stressed participants undergoing a 12-week yoga program were randomized to low, medium, and high home practice conditions. The medium condition allowed participants the flexibility to choose one of two amounts of practice each day. The low practice group exhibited the highest compliance (91%) compared to the medium and low practice groups (∼60%), but exhibited the lowest total practice time, and did not significantly reduce stress. The high practice group was the only group to achieve significant stress-reduction, which was maintained 12 weeks post program. Prescribing a flexible home practice schedule did not increase compliance. Results suggest that prescribing higher practice doses may maximize practice time and symptom reduction despite lower compliance.
Greenberg J, Datta T, Shapero BG, Sevinc G, Mischoulon D, Lazar SW. Compassionate hearts protect against wandering minds: Self-compassion moderates the effect of mind-wandering on depression. Spirituality in Clinical Practice. 2018;5 (3) :155-169. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Depression is associated with high levels of mind-wandering and low levels of self-compassion. However, little is known about whether and how these two factors interact with one another to influence depressive symptoms. The current study examined the interaction between mind-wandering, self-compassion, and depressive symptoms in a depressed sample and tested the effects of an 8-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) program on these constructs. At baseline, mind-wandering was associated with higher depressive symptoms only among individuals with low self-compassion. Self-compassion additionally predicted depressive improvement. As expected, MBCT increased self-compassion and reduced mind-wandering compared with a treatment-as-usual control group. Overall, longitudinal changes in self-compassion produced a moderation effect similar to the one at baseline so that increases in mind-wandering were associated with increases in depressive symptoms only among those who decreased in self-compassion. Results provide the first evidence that self-compassion can protect against the deleterious effects of mind-wandering among depressed participants, both at baseline and longitudinally. Findings also suggest that self-compassion is an effective predictor of depressive improvement. Finally, MBCT is effective not only at reducing depressive symptoms, but also at targeting protective and risk factors associated with depression.
Sevinc G, Hölzel BK, Hashmi J, Greenberg J, McCallister A, Treadway M, Schneider ML, Dusek JA, Carmody J, Lazar SW. Common and Dissociable Neural Activity After Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Relaxation Response Programs. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2018;80 (5) :439-451. PubMed VersionAbstract

Objective: We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress reduction programs.


Methods: Participants were randomized to the Relaxation Response (RR; n = 18; 56% female) or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; n = 16; 56% female) programs. Both programs use a “bodyscan” meditation; however, the RR program explicitly emphasizes physical relaxation during this practice, whereas the MBSR program emphasizes mindful awareness with no explicit relaxation instructions. After the programs, neural activity during the respective meditation was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging.


Results: Both programs were associated with reduced stress (for RR, from 14.1 ± 6.6 to 11.3 ± 5.5 [Cohen's d = 0.50; for MBSR, from 17.7 ± 5.7 to 11.9 ± 5.0 [Cohen's d = 1.02]). Conjunction analyses revealed functional coupling between ventromedial prefrontal regions and supplementary motor areas (p < .001). The disjunction analysis indicated that the RR bodyscan was associated with stronger functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus—an important hub of intentional inhibition and control—with supplementary motor areas (p < .001, family-wise error [FWE] rate corrected). The MBSR program was uniquely associated with improvements in self-compassion and rumination, and the within-group analysis of MBSR bodyscan revealed significant functional connectivity of the right anterior insula—an important hub of sensory awareness and salience—with pregenual anterior cingulate during bodyscan meditation compared with rest (p = .03, FWE corrected).


Conclusions: The bodyscan exercises in each program were associated with both overlapping and differential functional coupling patterns, which were consistent with each program's theoretical foundation. These results may have implications for the differential effects of these programs for the treatment of diverse conditions.

Shapero BG, Greenberg J, Mischoulon D, Pedrelli P, Meade K, Lazar SW. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Improves Cognitive Functioning and Flexibility Among Individuals with Elevated Depressive Symptoms. Mindfulness. 2018 :1-13. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Major depressive disorder is a prevalent psychiatric condition that affects cognitive functioning. Cognitive impairments associated with depression impact the treatment course and effectiveness, creating a need to target this aspect of depression directly. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be effective at preventing depressive relapse and reducing depressive symptoms, yet very little is known about its effects on cognitive impairments associated with depression. Therefore, the current study aimed to assess the effectiveness of MBCT on cognitive impairment in individuals with elevated symptoms of depression. Participants were assigned to an MBCT program (N = 22) or waitlist (N = 18). Participants completed diagnostic interviewing and self-report measures of depressive symptoms, overall cognitive functioning, and cognitive flexibility before and after the program. Participants who received MBCT had significantly improved cognitive flexibility and reduced cognitive deficits compared to those on the waitlist. In addition, improvement in cognitive deficits was significantly associated with depressive symptom improvement. These findings provide preliminary evidence that MBCT may be effective at improving cognitive impairment associated with elevated depressive symptoms.
Dam NTV, van Vugt MK, Vago DR, Schmalzl L, Saron CD, Olendzki A, Meissner T, Lazar SW, Kerr CE, Gorchov J, et al. Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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 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.
Dam NTV, van Vugt MK, Vago DR, Schmalzl L, Saron CD, Olendzki A, Meissner T, Lazar SW, Gorchov J, Fox KCR, et al. Reiterated Concerns and Further Challenges for Mindfulness and Meditation Research: A Reply to Davidson and Dahl. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In response to our article, Davidson and Dahl offer commentary and advice regarding additional topics crucial to a comprehensive prescriptive agenda for future research on mindfulness and meditation. Their commentary raises further challenges and provides an important complement to our article. More consideration of these issues is especially welcome because limited space precluded us from addressing all relevant topics. While we agree with many of Davidson and Dahl’s suggestions, the present reply (a) highlights reasons why the concerns we expressed are still especially germane to mindfulness and meditation research (even though those concerns may not be entirely unique) and (b) gives more context to other issues posed by them. We discuss special characteristics of individuals who participate in mindfulness and meditation research and focus on the vulnerability of this field inherent in its relative youthfulness compared to other more mature scientific disciplines. Moreover, our reply highlights the serious consequences of adverse experiences suffered by a significant subset of individuals during mindfulness and other contemplative practices. We also scrutinize common contemporary applications of mindfulness and meditation to illness, and some caveats are introduced regarding mobile technologies for guidance of contemplative practices. 

Afonso RF, Balardin JB, Lazar S, Sato JR, Igarashi N, Santaella DF, Lacerda SS, Jr. EA, Kozasa EH. Greater Cortical Thickness in Elderly Female Yoga Practitioners-A Cross-Sectional Study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Yoga, a mind-body activity that requires attentional engagement, has been associated with positive changes in brain structure and function, especially in areas related to awareness, attention, executive functions and memory. Normal aging, on the other hand, has also been associated with structural and functional brain changes, but these generally involve decreased cognitive functions. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to compare brain cortical thickness (CT) in elderly yoga practitioners and a group of age-matched healthy non-practitioners. We tested 21 older women who had practiced hatha yoga for at least 8 years and 21 women naive to yoga, meditation or any mind-body interventions who were matched to the first group in age, years of formal education and physical activity level. A T1-weighted MPRAGE sequence was acquired for each participant. Yoga practitioners showed significantly greater CT in a left prefrontal lobe cluster, which included portions of the lateral middle frontal gyrus, anterior superior frontal gyrus and dorsal superior frontal gyrus. We found greater CT in the left prefrontal cortex of healthy elderly women who trained yoga for a minimum of 8 years compared with women in the control group.
Greenberg J, Shapero BG, Mischoulon D, Lazar SW. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depressed individuals improves suppression of irrelevant mental-sets. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

An impaired ability to suppress currently irrelevant mental-sets is a key cognitive deficit in depression. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was specifically designed to help depressed individuals avoid getting caught in such irrelevant mental-sets. In the current study, a group assigned to MBCT plus treatment-as-usual (n = 22) exhibited significantly lower depression scores and greater improvements in irrelevant mental-set suppression compared to a wait-list plus treatment-as-usual (n = 18) group. Improvements in mental-set-suppression were associated with improvements in depression scores. Results provide the first evidence that MBCT can improve suppression of irrelevant mental-sets and that such improvements are associated with depressive alleviation.

de Jong M, Peeters F, Gard T, Ashih H, Doorley J, Walker R, Rhoades L, Kulich RJ, Kueppenbender KD, Alpert JE, et al. A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Unipolar Depression in Patients With Chronic Pain. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Chronic pain is a disabling illness, often comorbid with depression. We performed a randomized controlled pilot study on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) targeting depression in a chronic pain population.


Participants with chronic pain lasting ≥ 3 months; DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymic disorder, or depressive disorder not otherwise specified; and a 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Clinician Rated (QIDS-C₁₆) score ≥ 6 were randomly assigned to MBCT (n = 26) or waitlist (n = 14). We adapted the original MBCT intervention for depression relapse prevention by modifying the psychoeducation and cognitive-behavioral therapy elements to an actively depressed chronic pain population. We analyzed an intent-to-treat (ITT) and a per-protocol sample; the per-protocol sample included participants in the MBCT group who completed at least 4 of 8 sessions. Changes in scores on the QIDS-C₁₆ and 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Sale (HDRS₁₇) were the primary outcome measures. Pain, quality of life, and anxiety were secondary outcome measures. Data collection took place between January 2012 and July 2013.


Nineteen participants (73%) completed the MBCT program. No significant adverse events were reported in either treatment group. ITT analysis (n = 40) revealed no significant differences. Repeated-measures analyses of variance for the per-protocol sample (n = 33) revealed a significant treatment × time interaction (F₁,₃₁ = 4.67, P = .039, η²p = 0.13) for QIDS-C₁₆ score, driven by a significant decrease in the MBCT group (t₁₈ = 5.15, P < .001, d = >1.6), but not in the control group (t₁₃ = 2.01, P = .066). The HDRS₁₇ scores did not differ significantly between groups. The study ended before the projected sample size was obtained, which might have prevented effect detection in some outcome measures.


MBCT shows potential as a treatment for depression in individuals with chronic pain, but larger controlled trials are needed.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT01473615​​.

Greenberg J, Shapiro BG, Mischoulon D, et al. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depressed individuals improves suppression of irrelevant mental-sets. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. 2016 :1-6. Publisher's VersionAbstract


An impaired ability to suppress currently irrelevant mental-sets is a key cognitive deficit in depression. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was specifically designed to help depressed individuals avoid getting caught in such irrelevant mental-sets. In the current study, a group assigned to MBCT plus treatment-as-usual (n = 22) exhibited significantly lower depression scores and greater improvements in irrelevant mental-set suppression compared to a wait-list plus treatment-as-usual (n = 18) group. Improvements in mental-set-suppression were associated with improvements in depression scores. Results provide the first evidence that MBCT can improve suppression of irrelevant mental-sets and that such improvements are associated with depressive alleviation.


Mindfulness-based cognitive therapyDepressionMental-setCompetitor rule suppression


de Jong M, Lazar S, Hug K, Mehling WE, Hölzel BK, Sack AT, Peeters F, Ashih H, Mischoulon D, Gard T. Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on body awareness in patients with chronic pain and comorbid depression. Frontiers in Psychology. 2016;7 :967.Abstract

Body awareness has been proposed as one of the major mechanisms of mindfulness interventions, and it has been shown that chronic pain and depression are associated with decreased levels of body awareness. We investigated the effect of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on body awareness in patients with chronic pain and comorbid active depression compared to treatment as usual (TAU; N=31). Body awareness was measured by a subset of the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) scales deemed most relevant for the population. These included: Noticing, Not-Distracting, Attention Regulation, Emotional Awareness, and Self-Regulation. In addition, pain catastrophizing was measured by the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS). These scales had adequate to high internal consistency in the current sample. Depression severity was measured by the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology – Clinician rated (QIDS-C16). Increases in the MBCT group were significantly greater than in the TAU group on the ‘Self-Regulation’ and ‘Not Distracting’ scales. Furthermore, the positive effect of MBCT on depression severity was mediated by ‘Not Distracting’. These findings provide preliminary evidence that a mindfulness-based intervention may increase facets of body awareness as assessed with the MAIA in a population of pain patients with depression. Furthermore, they are consistent with a long hypothesized mechanism for mindfulness and emphasize the clinical relevance of body awareness.

Hölze BK, Brunsch V, Gard T, Greve DN, Koch K, Sorg C, Lazar SW, Milad MR. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Fear Conditioning, and The Uncinate Fasciculus: A Pilot Study. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2016;10 :124. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Mindfulness has been suggested to impact emotional learning, but research on these processes is scarce. The classical fear conditioning/extinction/extinction retention paradigm is a well-known method for assessing emotional learning. The present study tested the impact of mindfulness training on fear conditioning and extinction memory and further investigated whether changes in white matter fiber tracts might support such changes. The uncinate fasciculus (UNC) was of particular interest in the context of emotional learning. In this pilot study, 46 healthy participants were quasi-randomized to a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR, N = 23) or waitlist control (N = 23) group and underwent a two-day fear conditioning, extinction learning, and extinction memory protocol before and after the course or control period. Skin conductance response (SCR) data served to measure the physiological response during conditioning and extinction memory phases. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were analyzed with probabilistic tractography and analyzed for changes of fractional anisotropy in the UNC. During conditioning, participants were able to maintain a differential response to conditioned vs. not conditioned stimuli following the MBSR course (i.e., higher sensitivity to the conditioned stimuli), while controls dropped the response. Extinction memory results were not interpretable due to baseline differences. MBSR participants showed a significant increase in fractional anisotropy in the UNC, while controls did not (group by time interaction missed significance). Pre-post changes in UNC were correlated with changes in the response to the conditioned stimuli. The findings suggest effects of mindfulness practice on the maintenance of sensitivity of emotional responses and suggest underlying neural plasticity. (, Identifier NCT01320969,

Good DJ, Lyddy CJ, Glomb TM, Bono JE, Brown KW, Duffy MK, Baer RA, Brewer JA, Lazar SW. Contemplating Mindfulness at Work An Integrative Review. Journal of Management. 2015 :0149206315617003. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Mindfulness research activity is surging within organizational science. Emerging evidence across multiple fields suggests that mindfulness is fundamentally connected to many aspects of workplace functioning, but this knowledge base has not been systematically integrated to date. This review coalesces the burgeoning body of mindfulness scholarship into a framework to guide mainstream management research investigating a broad range of constructs. The frame- work identifies how mindfulness influences attention, with downstream effects on functional domains of cognition, emotion, behavior, and physiology. Ultimately, these domains impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. Consideration of the evidence on mindfulness at work stimulates important questions and challenges key assump- tions within management science, generating an agenda for future research.

Gard T, Taquet M, Dixit R, Hölzel BK, Dickerson BC, Lazar SW. Greater widespread functional connectivity of the caudate in older adults who practice kripalu yoga and vipassana meditation than in controls. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015;9 (137). Publisher's VersionAbstract

There has been a growing interest in understanding how contemplative practices affect brain functional organization. However, most studies have restricted their exploration to predefined networks. Furthermore, scientific comparisons of different contemplative traditions are largely lacking. Here we explored differences in whole brain resting state functional connectivity between experienced yoga practitioners, experienced meditators, and matched controls. Analyses were repeated in an independent sample of experienced meditators and matched controls. Analyses utilizing Network-Based Statistics (Zalesky et al., 2010) revealed difference components for yoga practitioners > controls and meditators > controls in which the right caudate was a central node. Follow up analyses revealed that yoga practitioners and meditators had significantly greater degree centrality in the caudate than controls. This greater degree centrality was not driven by single connections but by greater connectivity between the caudate and numerous brain regions. Findings of greater caudate connectivity in meditators than in controls was replicated in an independent dataset. These findings suggest that yoga and meditation practitioners have stronger functional connectivity within basal ganglia cortico-thalamic feedback loops than non-practitioners. Although we could not provide evidence for its mechanistic role, this greater connectivity might be related to the often reported effects of meditation and yoga on behavioral flexibility, mental health, and well-being.

Desbordes G, Gard T, Hoge EA, Hölzel BK, Kerr C, Lazar SW, Olendzki A, Vago DR. Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness. 2015;6 (2) :356-372. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In light of a growing interest in contemplative practices such as meditation, the emerging field of contemplative science has been challenged to describe and objectively measure how these practices affect health and well-being. While “mindfulness” itself has been proposed as a measurable outcome of contemplative practices, this concept encompasses multiple components, some of which, as we review here, may be better characterized as equanimity. Equanimity can be defined as an even-minded mental state or dispositional tendency toward all experiences or objects, regardless of their origin or their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral). In this article, we propose that equanimity be used as an outcome measure in contemplative research. We first define and discuss the inter-relationship between mindfulness and equanimity from the perspectives of both classical Buddhism and modern psychology and present existing meditation techniques for cultivating equanimity. We then review psychological, physiological, and neuroimaging methods that have been used to assess equanimity either directly or indirectly. In conclusion, we propose that equanimity captures potentially the most important psychological element in the improvement of well-being, and therefore should be a focus in future research studies.