Mindfulness therapies & recent biological science : What matters amidst the hype, for ineffable me, irreducible you?

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O’Connell, Colm
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Mindfulness Therapy has become part of the stable of psychotherapy since the 1980s when Jon Kabat-Zinn established Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as an effective therapeutic intervention. That programme melded roots from Buddhist Psychology with Western Cognitive Science and Group Therapy. Some terms were deliberately loosely defined at that time, including mindfulness itself. So how is recent research into mindfulness, including cross-disciplinary research with biological neuroscience and other scientific disciplines and the recent cultural popularity of mindfulness, impacting on mindfulness therapy and its clinical delivery? What of recent critiquing of those loose definitions around mindfulness and its research base? This paper explores how mindfulness therapy has been challenged and developed over the last 35 years by biological science and research. This paper discusses cross-disciplinary research involving mindfulness, the inherent difficulties of such cross-disciplinary conversations, how this research is shaping the manner in which therapy that uses aspects of mindfulness is evolving, including highlighting some of the risks and opportunities that may not be widely acknowledged to date.