Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being

Mindfulness Improves Physical and Mental Well-Being


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“scientists have found that practicing mindfulness is associated with changes in the structure and function of the brain as well as changes in our body’s response to stress, suggesting that this practice has important impacts on our physical and emotional health.” –  University of Minnesota


Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mentalphysical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children, to adolescents, to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalitiesrace, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.


Research on mindfulness effects on mental and physical health has exploded over the last few decades. So, it makes sense to pause and examine what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8083197/ )  Zhang and colleagues reviewed and summarized the randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of the effects of mindfulness-based practices on mental and physical health.


They report that the published research studies and meta-analyses found that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in mental health including anxiety, depression, anger, prosocial behavior, loneliness, physiological and psychological indicators of stress, insomnia, eating disorders, addictions, psychoses, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. They also report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant improvements in physical health including pain, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aggression, and violence.


In addition, mindfulness-based practices produced safe, cost-effective improvements in professional and healthcare settings, in schools, and in the workplace. Further they report that mindfulness-based practices produced significant changes in the structure and activity of the nervous system, improvements in immune functioning and physiological markers of stress.


The review of the published research has provided a compelling case for the utilization of mindfulness-based practices for a myriad of psychological and physical problems in humans of all ages with and without disease. The range and depth of effects are unprecedented making a strong case for the routine training in mindfulness for the improvement of their well-being.


So, mindfulness improves physical and mental well-being.


engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review. British medical bulletin, ldab005. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldab005




This is an overall review on mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Sources of data

We identified studies in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, Web of Science and Google Scholar using keywords including ‘mindfulness’, ‘meditation’, and ‘review’, ‘meta-analysis’ or their variations.

Areas of agreement

MBIs are effective for improving many biopsychosocial conditions, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, addiction, psychosis, pain, hypertension, weight control, cancer-related symptoms and prosocial behaviours. It is found to be beneficial in the healthcare settings, in schools and workplace but further research is warranted to look into its efficacy on different problems. MBIs are relatively safe, but ethical aspects should be considered. Mechanisms are suggested in both empirical and neurophysiological findings. Cost-effectiveness is found in treating some health conditions.

Areas of controversy

Inconclusive or only preliminary evidence on the effects of MBIs on PTSD, ADHD, ASD, eating disorders, loneliness and physical symptoms of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Furthermore, some beneficial effects are not confirmed in subgroup populations. Cost-effectiveness is yet to confirm for many health conditions and populations.

Growing points

Many mindfulness systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicate low quality of included studies, hence high-quality studies with adequate sample size and longer follow-up period are needed.

Areas timely for developing research

More research is needed on online mindfulness trainings and interventions to improve biopsychosocial health during the COVID-19 pandemic; Deeper understanding of the mechanisms of MBIs integrating both empirical and neurophysiological findings; Long-term compliance and effects of MBIs; and development of mindfulness plus (mindfulness+) or personalized mindfulness programs to elevate the effectiveness for different purposes.


Reduce Intimate Partner Violence with Mindfulness

Reduce Intimate Partner Violence with Mindfulness


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“teaching men mindfulness and emotional intelligence will help them develop self-awareness in moments of emotional trigger . . . and avoid violent reactivity.” – Prison Mindfulness Institute


The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare.


These violent and aggressive tendencies can lead to violence directed to intimate partners, including sexual and physical violence. In the U.S. there are over 5 million cases of domestic violence reported annually. Indeed, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner.


Obviously, there is a need to find ways to reduce intimate partner violence. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggressionhostility and violence. Hence, mindfulness training may be effective in reducing intimate partner violence. In today’s Research News article “Cognitive behavioural group therapy versus mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy for intimate partner violence: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7169006/), Nesset and colleagues explored therapeutic techniques for perpetrators of intimate partner violence.


They recruited adult men who were referred by physicians for treatment for violence against intimate partners. They were randomly assigned to be treated with either 15 2-hour group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions or 8 2-hour group Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) sessions. CBT explores and attempts to change inaccurate or negative thinking so the patient can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. The MBSR program consisting on training in meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussions of using mindfulness in everyday life. They were measured at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months later for violence over the prior 3 months reported by both the patient and the intimate partner, including physical injury, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence.


They found that in comparison to baseline both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced large and significant reductions in physical injury, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence over the 12-month follow-up period.


It is interesting that two very different therapeutic techniques were equally effective. This raises the possibility that the benefits may have been due to the confounding effects of participant expectancy (placebo) effects, demand characteristics, or experimenter bias effects. But the magnitude in the reductions in violence were striking and lasting. Confounding effects are usually short lived. So, it would seem that both therapies were effective in reducing violence in men with a history of intimate partner violence. Whether they act in different ways or share a common mechanism of action is a subject for future research.


So, reduce intimate partner violence with mindfulness.


Meditation is one of the most effective ways to calm the mind and clear built up stress from the nervous system.” – Diane Yeo


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Nesset, M. B., Lara-Cabrera, M. L., Bjørngaard, J. H., Whittington, R., & Palmstierna, T. (2020). Cognitive behavioural group therapy versus mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy for intimate partner violence: a randomized controlled trial. BMC psychiatry, 20(1), 178. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02582-4




Violence in close relationships is a global public health problem and there is a need to implement therapeutic programs designed to help individuals who voluntarily seek help to reduce recurrent intimate partner violence. The effectiveness of such interventions in this population remains inconclusive. The aim of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural group therapy (CBGT) vs mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) group therapy in reducing violent behavior amongst individuals who are violent in intimate partnerships and who voluntarily seek help.


One hundred forty four participants were randomized using an internet-based computer system. Nineteen withdrew after randomization and 125 participants were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (CBGT, n = 67) or the comparator condition (MBSR, n = 58). The intervention condition involved two individual sessions followed by 15 cognitive-behavioural group therapy sessions. The comparator condition included one individual session before and after 8 mindfulness-based group sessions. Participants (N = 125) and their relationship partners (n = 56) completed assessments at baseline, and at three, six, nine and twelve months’ follow-up. The pre-defined primary outcome was reported physical, psychological or sexual violence and physical injury as measured by the revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2).


The intent-to-treat analyses were based on 125 male participants (intervention group n = 67; comparator group n = 58). Fifty-six female partners provided collateral information. Baseline risk estimate in the CBGT-group was .85 (.74–.92), and .88 (.76–.94) in the MBSR-group for physical violence. At 12-months’ follow-up a substantial reduction was found in both groups (CBGT: .08 (.03–.18); MBSR: .19 (.11–.32)).


Results provide support for the efficacy of both the cognitive-behavioural group therapy and the mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy in reducing intimate partner violent behavior in men voluntarily seeking treatment.