In ‘The Great Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness’, the Buddha mentioned “There is this one way for the purification of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for extinguishing of stress and suffering, for attaining to higher knowledge, and for the realisation of liberation” (Digha Nikaya 22). This ‘one way’ is the application of mindfulness meditation on body, feelings, mind, and phenomena. Such wisdom words of an enlightened teacher uttered more than 2,500 years ago are timeless truths which modern science has just begun to uncover.
For four decades since Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to introduce the structured practice of mindfulness, the interest in mindfulness and other forms of meditation has grown exponentially. Meditation is no longer merely a spiritual quest practised at secluded religious centres but a mainstream mind-body therapy for health and wellbeing. Meditation classes are everywhere: hospitals, mental health clinics, nursing homes, the military, correctional centres, sports centres, universities, schools, and even in nurseries. Research has played a pivotal role to usher in this newfound interest in meditation. There is growing evidence supporting the health benefits of meditation in reducing stress, managing pain, enhancing cognition, improving resilience, cultivating positive emotions, and much more. However, cumulative knowledge on the study of meditation from various research disciplines including neuroscience, psychophysiology, cognitive science, mental health and public health represent only the tip of the iceberg. There is still much to discover from these ancient mind and body practices.
This book is a compilation of recent research in the field of meditation. It provides a snapshot of exciting findings and developments such as the launch of a large-scale UK study to operationalise mindfulness in the mental health system, the possibility that Zen meditation can slow down cardiopulmonary ageing, a theoretical framework for describing meditation interventions in health research, the potential for meditation to address health inequality, the use of mindful self-compassion to enhance the wellbeing of adult learners, and the case study of a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher sharing her first-hand experience of living with spondylolisthesis in relative peace through applying mindfulness strategies. The included articles further contribute to our understanding of the role of meditation in health, defined by the World Health Organization as “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”.
It is an honour to be academic editors for this Special Issue and a great pleasure to review many insightful manuscripts first-hand. We wish to thank the publisher for this excellent opportunity to serve the research community. We are also grateful for the hard work and support provided by the editorial office to make this project a success. To all the authors, thank you for your contributions. To the readers, thank you for your interest. A plethora of quality works from the latest meditation research await in the following pages. May you gain many useful insights!