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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The science of mindfulness

There is a measurable benefit that people could achieve through body-mind meditation, especially involving an effective training regimen.
PreventDisease reports that researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have laid out the science behind mindfulness, describing a broad framework of complex interactions in the brain:

The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice, which help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART).

They then highlighted six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness that support S-ART -- 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.

In other words, these processes begin with an intention and motivation to want to attain mindfulness, followed by an awareness of one's bad habits. Once these are set, a person can begin taming him or herself to be less emotionally reactive and to recover faster from upsetting emotions.

The article states that "the framework and neurobiological model proposed by the researchers differs from current popular descriptions of mindfulness as a way of paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." It doesn't sound different from the teachings I've received, non-scientifically, from meditation instructors. But it's always nice to have science validate your experience.