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Although the systematic study of meditation is still in its infancy, research has provided evidence for meditation-induced improvements in psychological and physiological well-being. Moreover, meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity. Nevertheless, little is known about possible links to brain structure. Using high-resolution MRI data of 44 subjects, we set out to examine the underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation with different regional specificity (i.e., global, regional, and local). For this purpose, we applied voxel-based morphometry in association with a recently validated automated parcellation approach. We detected significantly larger gray matter volumes in meditators in the right orbito-frontal cortex (as well as in the right thalamus and left inferior temporal gyrus when co-varying for age and/or lowering applied statistical thresholds). In addition, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the right hippocampus. Both orbito-frontal and hippocampal regions have been implicated in emotional regulation and response control. Thus, larger volumes in these regions might account for meditators' singular abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior. We further suggest that these regional alterations in brain structures constitute part of the underlying neurological correlate of long-term meditation independent of a specific style and practice. Future longitudinal analyses are necessary to establish the presence and direction of a causal link between meditation practice and brain anatomy.

The authors examine the facet structure of mindfulness using five recently developed mindfulness questionnaires. Two large samples of undergraduate students completed mindfulness questionnaires and measures of other constructs. Psychometric properties of the mindfulness questionnaires were examined, including internal consistency and convergent and discriminant relationships with other variables. Factor analyses of the combined pool of items from the mindfulness questionnaires suggested that collectively they contain five clear, interpretable facets of mindfulness. Hierarchical confirmatory factor analyses suggested that at least four of the identified factors are components of an overall mindfulness construct and that the factor structure of mindfulness may vary with meditation experience. Mindfulness facets were shown to be differentially correlated in expected ways with several other constructs and to have incremental validity in the prediction of psychological symptoms. Findings suggest that conceptualizing mindfulness as a multifaceted construct is helpful in understanding its components and its relationships with other variables.

Meditation is approached as a technique for the activation of religious experience. Various theories used in psychology to explain the cognitive changes brought about by meditation are briefly reviewed. Of these, the role-theory of Sundén fits best the structure and function of various meditation methods in religious history. A small scale laboratory experiment is reported, designed for the purpose of testing the predictive validity of role-theory. The results make it possible to specify the theory's contribution and limitation.

Numerous studies have noted that depth psychology has been one of the most prevalent frameworks for the interpretation of Buddhism in the West. Similarly, many commentators have bemoaned the assimilation of Buddhist thought and practice into western psychological discourse. This paper argues, however, that such critiques often fail to adequately distinguish between reductive approaches that reduce Buddhist phenomena to psychological states, and dialogical enterprises that utilize psychology as a tool to extend, through dialogue, the aims of Buddhism. Through a focus on what I identify as "West Coast Vipassana," a distinctive current within the American Insight Community, I examine attempts to incorporate personal life into Buddhist practice. While there are numerous incidents of the reductive approach in the Buddhist-psychology interface, I interpret West Coast Vipassana as providing a more legitimate and dialogical or "skillful means" approach to Buddhist practice in a contemporary Western climate.

This article opens by noting that positive emotions do not fit existing models of emotions. Consequently, a new model is advanced to describe the form and function of a subset of positive emotions, including joy, interest, contentment, and love. This new model posits that these positive emotions serve to broaden an individual's momentary thought-action repertoire, which in turn has the effect of building that individual's physical, intellectual, and social resources. Empirical evidence to support this broaden-and-build model of positive emotions is reviewed, and implications for emotion regulation and health promotion are discussed.

Bringing together leading scholars, scientists, and clinicians, this compelling volume explores how therapists can cultivate wisdom and compassion in themselves and their clients. Chapters describe how combining insights from ancient contemplative practices and modern research can enhance the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, couple conflict, and parenting stress. Seamlessly edited, the book features numerous practical exercises and rich clinical examples. It examines whether wisdom and compassion can be measured objectively, what they look like in t.

The Star Counting Test (SCT) has been developed to measure the regulatory function of attention. In a previous study it was shown that the SCT is suited for assessment of this attentional aspect with children. The present study concerns a more difficult version aimed at young adults. In the literature, the regulatory function of attention is increasingly stressed and it has been linked to working memory functioning. In order to further determine the validity of the SCT, performance was checked against two kinds of measures relating to working memory, i.e. Digit Span and Computational Span. These tasks both call for storage but differ in their claims on the processing component of working memory. Using confirmatory factor analysis substantial correlations were demonstrated with either of these measures. As expected, the correlations tended to rise with increasing demands on the processing component. Test scores were further compared with self-reported cognitive failures. No significant relation appeared to exist. The results are interpreted in terms of demands on the regulatory function of attention.

The use of Yoga and other complementary healthcare interventions for both clinical and non-clinical populations has increased substantially in recent years. In this context, we describe the implementation of Hatha Yoga in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program of Kabat-Zinn and colleagues. This is embedded in a more general consideration of Yoga’s place in complementary healthcare. In providing this overview, we comment on the nature and quality of current research on Yoga, summarize current physiological and psychological explanations of its effects, and discuss practical issues related to teacher training and experience.

In this book Zen Buddhism becomes the opening wedge for an extraordinarily wide-ranging exploration of consciousness. In order to understand which brain mechanisms produce Zen states, one needs some understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the brain. Austin, both a neurologist and a Zen practitioner, interweaves the most recent brain research with the personal narrative of his Zen experiences. The science is both inclusive and rigorous; the Zen sections are clear and evocative. Along the way, Austin examines such topics as similar states in other disciplines and religions, sleep and dreams, mental illness, consciousness-altering drugs, and the social consequences of the advanced stage of ongoing enlightenment.
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