By: Brandon A. Gaudiano, Ph.D. Psychologist at Butler Hospital

Many people are aware that mindfulness is being used to treat psychiatric problems and to improve general health and well-being. But there are some unexpected places where we are seeing mindfulness popping up that may sound less familiar.  Here are a few such surprising places where mindfulness is being used today.

  • You might know that mindfulness training has been used to improve the outcomes of patients with medical conditions for several decades. But did you know that it’s being used to train doctors too?  Increasingly, schools like Brown University are offering medical students training in mindfulness to help them with stress management and to make them more attentive physicians.    has shown that medical students who practice mindfulness have decreased burnout and depression and increased empathy and compassion toward their patients.
  • Another emerging area for mindfulness is in sports. Elite athletes are always looking for ways of maximizing their performance and getting a competitive edge. Some are looking to mindfulness as a way to accomplish this.  New mindfulness-based sports programs are using these techniques to enhance athletes’ sense of “flow,” or that state of mind known as “the zone” when a person is fully immersed and involved in an activity.
  • Finally, even the military is exploring what mindfulness can do for soldiers. Combat is highly stressful and military personnel can sometimes develop posttraumatic stress disorder after being in such situations.   Recently, the U.S. military has experimented with delivering mindfulness training to help soldiers deal with the psychological aftermath of war.  Marines who completed the course showed enhanced recovery after stress and a reduced physiological stress response.

Much of this research is still in its infancy and more needs to be conducted to confirm these early findings.  However, it is likely we will continue to see mindfulness being applied to many nonclinical settings to improve performance and help people with stress management.

Brandon A. Gaudiano, Ph.D.

Brandon A. Gaudiano, Ph.D. is a psychologist at Butler Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is the editor of a new book titled Mindfulness, which is a part of Routledge’s “Major Themes in Mental Health” Series. Mindfulness is a four-volume set that contains some of the seminal works on this topic, covering research and theory on the history, assessment, and applications of mindfulness.  A series of Talks Your Health posts highlight each of the four topics covered. Volume I focuses on the historical and philosophical roots of mindfulness. Volume II focuses on cognitive neuroscience and assessment methods. Volume III focuses on clinical interventions incorporating mindfulness. Volume IV focuses on nonclinical applications of mindfulness.