Friday, February 17, 2006

Mindful awareness and my frontal lobes?

A note by Sara Lazar et al. in Neuroreport proposes that mindful awareness meditation causes increases in the thickness of areas of the frontal lobes associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing (the sample size is small). It is known that brain areas associated with other skilled activities such as juggling or playing the piano increase in size with practice.

I find it difficult to communicate my experience of mindful awareness. It seems like a contentless animal kind of openness that observes mind products such as thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they rise and decay, sensing itself as distinct from completely being them. This is very different from my usual more immersed self that feels itself to be completely defined by those thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This losing of a normal self, paradoxically, yields a platform for acting in the real world that others experience as a strong presence of self. One description would be that this platform is continually making such distinctions as that between being an angry person and noting the process of angry-ing as it appears and disappears. (I try to expand on this in Mindstuff: a guide for the curious user)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:28 PM

    If you found this book intriguing, you will definitely enjoy reading My Stroke of Insight - a Brain Scientist's Personal Journey" by Jill Bolte Taylor, and her talk on TED dot com about her stroke which is an 18 minute talk you Must Not Miss! (there's a reason it's been forwarded friend to friend millions of times!).
    When you read the book and see the TEDTalk, you'll understand why this Harvard brain scientist was named Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People. Her unique experience, combined with her perspective as a neuroanatomist, and her sensitivity and awareness (not to mention beautiful writing style!) has produced something so powerful and so revolutionary that I think it's going to become a transformational movement in itself. Oprah also did four interviews with her (that I was able to download on the Oprah website) that are also worth checking out.
    I am trying to share Dr Taylor's story with as many people as I can because I truly believe if everyone saw it the world would be so much better and people would love one another and no longer fight.