Mindfulness Facts

Mindfulness Facts & Statistics

Our world today is faster and noisier than it used to be, thanks to industrialization and technology. It is easy to lose our sense of awareness, creativity, and mental well-being. One way to find a balance in this busy and distracting world of ours is by practicing mindfulness. 

As the mindfulness facts below show and research have revealed, mindfulness presents numerous positive impacts on mental wellbeing, more chronic issues, and physical health.

In this article, you will find 26 facts about mindfulness and meditation.

25 Mindfulness and Meditation Facts

Facts about mindfulness and meditation
Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

Facts about how many people practice mindfulness

#1 - In the US, adult use of meditation tripled in 2017; it went from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 20171

Mindfulness is a state of awareness that comes from purposefully paying attention to your thoughts in the present moment in a non-judgemental way. People often associate mindfulness with meditation. The practice of meditation is an ancient mind-body technique that has been used to improve psychological well-being. 

Mindfulness is not about suppressing positive or negative thoughts; instead, it helps us free ourselves from our habitual thought patterns. It is important to note that the gains of mindfulness practice appear over time and not immediately after the first session.

#2 - 40% of Americans meditate weekly, 8% meditate once or twice a month, and 4% do it several times a year2

#3 - 45% of Americans rarely meditate or do not practice meditation at all2

Although the history of mindful meditation is associated with eastern spirituality in popular culture, it has crossed religious boundaries. According to a 2018 report by Pew Research Center, nearly all Americans who belong to a religious group meditate. 26% of non-religious Americans meditate weekly or more often. They averaged the meditation frequency of both sections to at least once a week.

#4 - In 2018, 8 million adults in Britain had learned to practice mindfulness, while around 12 million had never heard of mindfulness3

Mindfulness training requires learning the techniques used to bring the mind and body to a mindful state. These techniques include body scanning, mindfulness yoga, mindful eating, mindful listening, breathing, and walking meditation. Learning to use these techniques in the right way will reduce the mind wandering and help focus on our thoughts and actions in the present moment. 

#5 - Young and middle-aged adults in Britain had higher levels of engagement with mindfulness practices3

#6 - In 2017, only 11.8% of men used meditation while 16.3% of women did1

#7 - In this UK-based study, the rate of women who had learned to practice mindfulness was 2% higher than men3

Trial and uptake of mindfulness

#8 - 43% of people in Britain stopped practicing mindfulness right after learning, 32% practiced from time to time, while 25% practiced regularly3

In most situations, practicing mindfulness meditation requires a quiet environment that is devoid of distraction. For most adults, such an environment is a luxury, even for a short period. The distractions of work and family may prevent many people from taking time out to practice mindfulness.

Statistics show that young unmarried adults practice mindfulness more often than married people. Also, more than one report showed that women were more involved in mindfulness practice than men.

Related: Have a browse of of these mindfulness quotes to learn from those who've taken mindfulness practice to heart and benefit everyday.

Where do people learn mindfulness?

#9 - A 2018 study showed that mobile apps were the most used pathway to practicing mindfulness in Britain, followed by books and attending a course3

In 2018, 15% of the adult population of Britain had learned mindfulness practice via an app, a book, or attending a program.

Technology has infused almost every aspect of life, and wellness is no exception. There are many ways to access mindfulness programs, but an app is ideal for most young people. This may be due to busy schedules and other commitments.

Using apps means they don't have to book a trip to a mindfulness retreat, and they can pace their activities according to personal convenience. This also means they can practice anywhere and anytime. The downside of mobile phone apps as a tool for practicing mindfulness is that other apps may cause distractions frequently.

#10 - The least used pathways to practicing mindfulness in Britain were visiting a mindfulness website and watching a video or DVD3

#11 - British politicians in the UK parliament have been taught mindfulness practice3

Mindfulness is considered a safe practice for anyone. You don't need to have special skills or subscribe to some religious beliefs to be mindful. Anyone with an open mind to the practice can enjoy the mental and health benefits of mindfulness. 

Mindfulness benefits facts

Man meditating
Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

#12 - Research has shown that practicing mindfulness thickens areas of the brain that control ‘executive function’ such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala4

Despite difficulties, mindfulness research has attempted to provide valid proof of the benefits of mindfulness meditation concerning mental health and general well-being. One of the hard pieces of evidence is the thickening or strengthening of the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, insula, hippocampus, precuneus, and amygdala. 

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain in charge of self-regulation, attention, and planning. The insula and precuneus are responsible for self-awareness and emotional regulation. The hippocampus takes care of memory functions, and the amygdala is associated with feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. 

#13 - A study showed decreased anxiety, depression, and negativity after an 8-week mindfulness meditation training5

To test how meditation affects people who have no prior meditating experience, researchers carried out an experimental study on non-meditators aged 18-45. The control group listened to a 13-minute podcast daily while the experimental group participated in a 13 minute guided meditation daily.

After eight weeks, the experimental group showed decreased negative mood and anxiety scores. The group also showed enhanced working memory, recognition memory, and attention. The study established that brief daily meditation could have similar effects as more prolonged and more intense meditation experiences. 

Mindfulness-Based Treatments

#14 - A comparative study shows that mindfulness treatments (MBSR and MBCT) outperform active control conditions in treating clinical disorders and symptoms6

Mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are forms of mindfulness-based interventions. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends MBCT. It combines mindfulness techniques with some elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy to break negative thought patterns in the mind that characterize recurrent depression. MBSR addresses chronic stress and works for people with or without mental health disorders.

MBIs are more effective in treating patients compared to active control conditions like health education, supportive psychotherapy, and relaxation training. It also surpasses other non-evidence-based treatments. Evidence shows that the performance of MBIs for anxiety is on par with standard Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

#15 - A recent meta-analysis of 15 Randomised Controlled Trials found that technology-delivered MBIs significantly impacted depression, anxiety, stress, and mental well-being compared to control or waitlist conditions6

#16 - The reductive effects of Meditation programs on symptoms of patients with anxiety disorders can last for up to 3 years after initial intervention5

Mindfulness practice can cause changes in brain structure and activities of the mind. Experts consider such changes to be more permanent than behavioral changes. Hence the benefits of mindfulness are thought to be lasting.

Meditation can reduce panic, anxiety, and depression symptoms in patients, with the effects lasting for up to 3 years after the initial meditation intervention. However, the benefits of being in the present moment do not suggest that meditation be done only once every three years. It simply establishes the fact that the benefits of meditation and mindfulness last long after the period of practice. 

#17 - A study by Harvard scientists recorded a change in 172 genes regulating inflammation, glucose metabolism, and circadian rhythms linked to a meaningful decrease in participants’ blood pressure after about eight weeks of meditation7

Many studies have shown that meditation can help control or treat high blood pressure, chronic pain, and some mental disorders. Research also suggests that meditation may help reduce insomnia, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome.

#18 - Research shows a significant impact of mindfulness in substance misuse5

Findings have been made that reveal small and large impacts of mindfulness treatments in combating substance abuse. Mindfulness treatments help to reduce the severity and frequency of substance misuse. It also helps to curb the craving for psychoactive substances and reduces the rate of relapse.

#19 - Some research suggests that investing only 6% of the school day in mindfulness practice is associated with a 16% increase in mental health and academic performance4

According to WHO projections, depression will become one of the top health problems globally. About 1 in every 7 children in primary school and 1 in 4 children in secondary school have mental health issues or problems. Studies show that 75% of mental disorders emerge during teenage and early adult years.

Mental health issues coupled with the demands of education and career can make teaching and learning stressful. Practicing mindfulness in schools is one way for students and teachers to cope with mental stress. Researchers have shown that mindfulness can help school-aged persons develop skills to help them get the best out of the school experience.

#20 - A meta-analysis of over 70 studies showed that school-aged young people who practiced mindfulness exhibited better emotional and behavior regulation than those who did not practice 4

#21 - The analysis also showed that students who practiced mindfulness had better social skills than 64% of their non-mindful peers4

#22 - According to the research, students who practiced mindfulness had lower depression and anxiety scores than their peers who did not practice mindfulness4

#23 - The analysis suggests that students who practiced mindfulness showed better academic performance than 66% of their non-mindful peers4

Mindfulness sharpens an individual's ability to pay attention. This improves retention capacity and reduces distractions. It strengthens working memory, reasoning, and cognitive flexibility. It also enhances emotional stability by reducing behavioral issues, emotional reactivity, anxiety, and depression. These things help young people do better in school because they have eliminated most obstacles to learning. 

Students who include mindfulness-meditation practice in their daily routine will have better social and academic skills compared to most of those who don't.

Facts about the economic impacts of mindfulness

#24 - The global market for mindfulness meditation apps was valued at USD 153.6 million8

Increasing stress levels and scientific findings will lead more people to turn to mindfulness. This presents an opportunity for mindfulness to boost the economy. In May 2017, the Committee For Children (CFC) launched Mind Yeti, a mindfulness app for children aged 5-12. In 2019, the organization announced its intention to create a social-emotional learning program for the environment outside the classroom. 

Apps for mindfulness and meditation practice generated over 150 million dollars in 2019. Experts predict that the mindfulness app market will be worth 341.9 million dollars by 2029.

The rising popularity of mindfulness has contributed to the wellness economy, no doubt. The wellness economy experienced a 12.8% growth between 2015 to 2017. Current data puts the wellness industry at 5.3% of global economic output.

#25 - The global wellness industry grew from the 2015 value of $3.7 trillion to a $4.2 trillion market in 20179

2 David Masci and Conrad Hackett (2018). Meditation is common across many religious groups in U.S. Pew Research Center.
3 Otto Simonsson et al. (2020). Awareness and experience of mindfulness in Britain. SAGE Journals.
5 Julia Basso C. et al. (2019). Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behavioural Brain Research. Vol. 356, pages 208-220.
6 Stefan G. Hoffman and Angelina F. Gomez. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Interventions for anxiety and depression. The Psychiatric clinic of North America.
7 Bhasin MK, Denninger JW, Huffman JC, Joseph MG, Niles H, Chad-Friedman E, Goldman R, Buczynski-Kelley B, Mahoney BA, Fricchione GL, Dusek JA, Benson H, Zusman RM, Libermann TA. Specific Transcriptome Changes Associated with Blood Pressure Reduction in Hypertensive Patients After Relaxation Response Training. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 May;24(5):486-504. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0053. Epub 2018 Apr 4. PMID: 29616846; PMCID: PMC5961875.
9 Global Wellness Institute (2019) 2018 global wellness economy monitor.
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