Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation Apps

Free Guided Meditation Links  

Free Guided Meditations from the Center for KORU Mindfulness (evidence-based mindfulness for college-aged adults)

Mindful Way Through Anxiety by Susan Orsillo & Liz Roemer

The Mindfulness Solution by Ron Siegel

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, & John Teasdale

Sitting Together by Susan Pollak, Thomas Pedulla, & Ron Siegel

Quiet Mind: A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

  • Sharon Salzberg on metta, the practice of lovingkindness
  • Judith Lief on tonglen, the practice of transformation
  • Tulku Thondup on healing the body and mind through meditation 

Research Data on Mindfulness and Meditation

  • While in 2005 there were 365 peer-reviewed articles on mindfulness in the psychological literature, there were over 2200 articles by 2013, as well as over 60 mindfulness treatment and research centers in the US alone.
  • Mindfulness involves first the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience in the moment. Secondly, it consists of adopting an orientation of openness, curiosity, and acceptance toward that experience (Bishop et al., 2004).
  • Mindfulness has demonstrated to have significant improvements on anxiety, major depression, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, substance abuse, psoriasis, and quality of life for cancer patients (Baer, 2003).
  • Practitioners report being able to cope more effectively with difficult situations, have more empathy and compassion, have better memory, and pay better attention (Lazar, 2013).
  • Effects on Breathing: As meditators develop greater concentration, they are able to access deeper levels of relaxation, as evidenced by decreases in breaths per minute (Lazar, 2004).
  • Gray Matter and the Pre-Frontal Cortex: Regions of gray matter (where neural activity happens) in the pre-frontal cortex (responsible for decision-making and cognitive processing) were larger for meditators. It is well known that this part of the brain typically decreases in thickness with age. The findings suggested that meditation might help slow down or even prevent normal age-related decline in thickness (Lazar et al., 2005).
  • Pain Management: Mindfulness has been shown to decrease the experience of pain and pain-related anxiety through increased processing of the pain sensations themselves, coupled with cognitive disengagement (Lutz et al. 2008).
  • The Hippocampus: Meditation practice may hold the potential to prevent detrimental effects of stress on the brain, which has important implications for numerous psychological conditions in which the structure and function of the hippocampus (associated with learning and memory) are important, such as depression and PTSD (Grant et al. 2011; Leung et al. 2012).
  • The Amygdala: Mindfulness has been correlated with decreases in the gray matter density of the amygdala, which was correlated with a change in perceived levels of stress. The amygdala plays a central role in emotional arousal and in mediating physiological responses to threats (Hözel et al. 2011).
  • How Does Mindfulness Actually Work? We now have neurological evidence for six mechanisms of action for mindfulness practice (Hözel et al. 2011):
    1. Attention Regulation: Stability of awareness in spite of competing input
    2. Body Awareness: Noticing subtle sensations, being conscious of one’s emotions
    3. Emotion Regulation: Decreased reactivity, not letting emotional reactions interfere with performance
    4. Reappraisal: Seeing difficulties as meaningful or benign, rather than as all negative
    5. Exposure: Global desensitization to whatever is present in the field of awareness
    6. Flexible sense of self: Disidentification with emotions and increasing adaptivity

Recommended Reading

  • The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chödrön
  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
  • The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chödrön
  • A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
  • Mindfulness in Action: Making Friends with Yourself through
  • Meditation and Everyday Awareness by Chögyam Trungpa
  • Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa
  • Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein
  • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
  • Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
  • Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aiken
  • An Introduction to Meditation by Alan Watts
  • What is Zen? by Alan Watts
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
  • Vipassana Meditation as Taught by SN Goenka by William Hart
  • The Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein