There is a mountain of research about the positive effects mindfulness-based practices have on individuals. These include behavioral changes, physical changes and even neurological changes.

Having roots dating back more than two thousand years in Eastern cultures, the continual emergence of non-religious contemplative psychological practices is gaining in popularity due to the recognition of these results.

Now there is a much wider acceptance to these various practices and it is found that the applications in life are endless. Our use of these methods in addiction recovery are just a small sampling of the total benefits available to people who seek a better life.

Here you will find some descriptions and links to scientific and clinical research studies that have been completed involving mindfulness practices.

Relative Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, Standard Relapse Prevention, and Treatment as Usual for Substance Use Disorders

Sarah Bowen, PhD; Katie Witkiewitz, PhD; Seema L. Clifasefi, PhD; et al
JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(5):547-556

“For individuals in aftercare following initial treatment for substance use disorders, RP and MBRP, compared with TAU, produced significantly reduced relapse risk to drug use and heavy drinking. Relapse prevention delayed time to first drug use at 6-month follow-up, with MBRP and RP participants who used alcohol also reporting significantly fewer heavy drinking days compared with TAU participants. At 12-month follow-up, MBRP offered added benefit over RP and TAU in reducing drug use and heavy drinking. Targeted mindfulness practices may support long-term outcomes by strengthening the ability to monitor and skillfully cope with discomfort associated with craving or negative affect, thus supporting long-term outcomes.”

From the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment – April 2017:

Mindfulness treatment for substance misuse: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

By: Wen Li, Matthew O. Howard, Eric L. Garland, Patricia McGovern, Michael Lazar
Funded by the National Institutes of Health

High rates of relapse following substance misuse treatment highlight an urgent need for effective therapies. Although the number of empirical studies investigating effects of mindfulness treatment for substance misuse has increased dramatically in recent years, few reviews have examined findings of mindfulness studies. Thus, this systematic review examined methodological characteristics and substantive findings of studies evaluating mindfulness treatments for substance misuse published by 2015. The review also includes the first meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of mindfulness treatments for substance misuse. Comprehensive bibliographic searches in PubMed, PsycInfo, and Web of Science, identified 42 pertinent studies. Meta-analytic results revealed significant small-to-large effects of mindfulness treatments in reducing the frequency and severity of substance misuse, intensity of craving for psychoactive substances, and severity of stress. Mindfulness treatments were also effective in increasing rates of posttreatment abstinence from cigarette smoking compared to alternative treatments. Mindfulness treatment for substance misuse is a promising intervention for substance misuse, although more research is needed examining the mechanisms by which mindfulness interventions exert their effects and the effectiveness of mindfulness treatments in diverse treatment settings.

Mindfulness Meditation Is Associated With Structural Changes in the Brain

Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.
Hölzel BK1, Carmody J, Vangel M, Congleton C, Yerramsetti SM, Gard T, Lazar SW.

According to a recent study, practicing mindfulness meditation appears to be associated with measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning, and emotion. Mindfulness meditation focuses attention on breathing to develop increased awareness of the present. Previous research has demonstrated that mindfulness meditation may reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, but little is known about its effects on the brain. The focus of the current study — published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging — was to identify brain regions that changed in participants enrolled in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program.