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A new framework for maintaining mental health and well-being.From the author of the internationally-acclaimed best-selling text The Developing Mind, and esteemed leader and educator in the field of mental health, comes the first book ever to integrate neuroscience research with the ancient art of mindfulness. The result is a groundbreaking approach to not simply mental health, but life in general, which shows readers how personal awareness and attunement can actually stimulate emotional circuits in the brain, leading to a host of physiological benefits, including greater well-being, resilience, emotional balance, and improved cardiac and immune function. For clinicians and laypeople alike, Siegel’s illuminating discussions of the power of the focused mind provide a wealth of ideas that can transform our lives and deepen our connections with others, and with ourselves.
Recent literature has described how the capacity for concurrent self-assessment—ongoing moment-to-moment self-monitoring—is an important component of the professional competence of physicians. Self-monitoring refers to the ability to notice our own actions, curiosity to examine the effects of those actions, and willingness to use those observations to improve behavior and thinking in the future. Self-monitoring allows for the early recognition of cognitive biases, technical errors, and emotional reactions and may facilitate self-correction and development of therapeutic relationships. Cognitive neuroscience has begun to explore the brain functions associated with self-monitoring, and the structural and functional changes that occur during mental training to improve attentiveness, curiosity, and presence. This training involves cultivating habits of mind such as experiencing information as novel, thinking of “facts” as conditional, seeing situations from multiple perspectives, suspending categorization and judgment, and engaging in self-questioning. The resulting awareness is referred to as mindfulness and the associated moment-to-moment self-monitoring as mindful practice—in contrast to being on “automatic pilot” or “mindless” in one's behavior. This article is a preliminary exploration into the intersection of educational assessment, cognitive neuroscience, and mindful practice, with the hope of promoting ways of improving clinicians' capacity to self-monitor during clinical practice, and, by extension, improve the quality of care that they deliver.