Mindfulness is a form of meditation with rooots in Buddhist spiritual practices that has been used in a number of ways in clinical psychology including mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and dialectical behaviour therapy. Mindfulness meditation is distinguished from concentration-based meditation which trains participants to focus their attention on a single stimulus such as an object or a word. By contrast mindfulness meditation involves a broader observation of one's present moment experience i.e. physical sensations, thoughts and feelings. There is a growing body of research suggesting that mindfulness-based techniques are effective for a wide variety of conditions including depression, stress, anxiety and pain but less research on the underlying mechanisms whereby mindfulness affects cognition. A team of researchers in Canada studied 72 people to compare how MBSR affected people's concentration, attention and cognition as well as their emotional well-being and mindfulness. Those people who had undertaken an MBSR course showed improvements in emotional well-being and mindfulness but no improvements in attention. However, those people who had improved their mindfulness were better at picking objects out of drawings when asked to do so.
Anderson, Nicole D. ... [et al] - Mindfulness-based stress reduction and attentional control Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy November-December 2007, 14(6), 449-463