Stress-related illness presents an ever-increasing burden to society, and thus has become the target of numerous complementary and integrative medicine interventions. One such clinical intervention, mindfulness meditation, has gained eminence for its demonstrated efficacy in reducing stress and improving health outcomes. Despite its prominence, little is known about the mechanics through which it exerts its treatment effects. This article details the therapeutic mechanisms of mindfulness with a novel causal model of stress, metacognition, and coping. Mindfulness is hypothesized to bolster coping processes by augmenting positive reappraisal, mitigating catastrophizing, and engendering self-transcendence. Reviews of stress and mindfulness are then framed by the perspective of second-order cybernetics, a transdisciplinary conceptual framework which builds on extant theory by highlighting the recursion between the individual and their environment.