Research Background

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on the present moment, without judgment.


What can it do?

The fields of Positive Psychology and mindfulness research have been rapidly expanding over the last decade as our understanding of the links between mental and physical health improves. Although the field is still in its infancy, systematic reviews of clinical trials of meditation training have shown clear evidence that it can reduce stress, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

These individual mental health benefits have also been shown to translate into wider benefits in people’s lives. In schools, mindfulness can improve emotional control in students, support better decision making and thus better attention and attendance rates. In the workplace, mindfulness practices can result in lower burnout rates and secondary trauma among staff with high stress positions, such as nurses and teachers. Mindfulness can improve the quality of life for those coping with chronic health issues.

In addition, research is just beginning to investigate whether mindfulness can confront prejudice in society by confronting implicit biases against people with disabilities, different gender identities or of different races. All of these situations suggest that much wider and longer-term outcomes can be improved with training in mindfulness.


What is our aim?

Awaken Pittsburgh’s aim is to use this growing evidence base to design practical, supportive programs that can benefit individuals and, consequently, the entire community. Based on the research, we have designed programs tailor-made for groups in many different settings. From our original programs for teachers, caring professionals and youth in schools we have expanded our offerings to support those in recovery and those who work with trauma survivors. We are currently creating programs specifically for parents, pre-school children and to confront unconscious bias.

We continuously review our programming and outreach to best serve our community. Faced with the overwhelming disruption and level of stress on our program participants incurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have pivoted to online trainings and additional virtual support and meditation sessions.


Our Research

Awaken Pittsburgh believes that it’s not enough to say our programs deliver the peace of mind, stress reduction and classroom transformation they’re designed to bring about. We want to be able to prove it.

Our Mindful Connections™ curricula, and every other program we deliver, is grounded in the latest scientific studies on the efficacy of mindfulness and meditation training. We then use standardized scales developed by researchers to measure participants’ mindfulness and other relevant indicators such as stress, burnout and emotional control. Before and after we complete a program with a client, we compare these findings to gauge our results. Our research approach includes comprehensive post-program surveys and exit research with participants, to see if we can further improve the programs. Finally, as often as possible, we carry out follow-up studies to measure the true impact of what we teach.




Awaken Pittsburgh is excited to be collaborating with the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University where research is being done on our programming.

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