Despite the fact that mindfulness has been practised for thousands of years in the East, it was Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn (1982) who first recognised the potential for a therapy in modern day clinical settings, finding that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) could effectively reduce negative factors such as psychological distress in those living with chronic back pain. Since such discoveries, mindfulness has become an extremely popular topic for psychologists, with 674 scientific studies being published in 2015 alone. Studies have found mindfulness meditation to benefit a huge variety of health conditions, for example:
- Improving mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions, for example reducing levels of depression and anxiety.
- Reducing physical pain and the emotional reaction to it, allowing individuals to change their relationship with their condition by living in harmony with their pain rather than trying to fight it.
- Improving social functioning by strengthening relationships, improving sleep quality and decreasing the level of interference that pain has on daily activities
- Re-establishing a sense of control by learning coping mechanisms and feeling empowered in knowing that individuals have a choice in response to pain and discomfort.