Trends in Mindfulness Research Over the Past 55 Years

Mindfulness literature has grown from a single article cited in 1966 to 2,808 in 2020. A recent publication from the journal Mindfulness traces the roots of research in the field and explores its developments over time.

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The origin of mindfulness as a contemplative practice stretches back centuries, but it’s only in the last five decades that research from around the world has sought to explore the effects of mindfulness on health and well-being. In a recent publication from the journal Mindfulness, authors Anuradha Baminiwatta and Indrajith Solangaarachchi used innovative computer technology to trace the roots of mindfulness literature and explore how it has grown over time.

“Bibliometrics is where you use various statistical and computational methods to understand the structure and trends in…the body of literature,” says Anuradha. Unlike systematic reviews, in which researchers would read each included study and synthesize the findings, bibliometrics maps the broader structure and scope of research and can identify themes and connections between studies. 

For example, the Java application CiteSpace was used to develop colorful visuals that resemble spider webs, which show collaborative research networks between countries or clusters of keywords that relate to mindfulness. The major research areas (such as “mindfulness-based therapeutic intervention” or “commitment therapy”) are mapped as luminescent bursts of color over a black background. The maps act like a visual guide for researchers interested in tracing…