New Research on Mindfulness Meditation: Summer 2020

A roundup of new mindfulness research on improving stress resilience, taking your practice outdoors, and lessening cognitive decline.

Photo by iprachenko/Adobe Stock
Protecting Soldiers’ Brains

Active-duty soldiers face mental and emotional challenges that diminish attention and memory. New research by Mindfulness-Based Attention Training (MBAT) codevelopers Dr. Amishi Jha and Scott Rogers finds that mindfulness instruction may lessen cognitive decline due to mental and emotional stress. MBAT combines mindfulness principles and practices with skills relevant to soldiers, aiming to reduce stress and build resilience.

Before the study, professional military trainers completed a 12-week MBAT training practicum and eight weeks of training to teach MBAT to soldiers. Mindfulness trainers who had not worked with soldiers also completed the practicum. Next, 180 healthy, active-duty, male army volunteers received MBAT instruction from either a military trainer or a mindfulness trainer, via weekly two-hour instruction and daily audio-guided sessions over four weeks, on themes of concentration, body awareness, open monitoring, and connection. Soldiers in a control group received no mindfulness training. Both at study’s end and four weeks later, the military trainer group showed the smallest decline in attention and memory. They also spent more time meditating on their own, suggesting that training tailored to their needs may be most effective in preventing stress-related cognitive…