Cultivating emotional balance: two case studies

Weininger, Radhule, et al. “The Mindful Pause: Cultivating Emotional Balance through Mindfulness.” No date. Full text.

Abstract. The Buddhist technique named Mindfulness has become widespread in clinical
practice as a way to approach mental and emotional well being. The mindful pause is described as a way to interrupt habitual reactivity and engage compassionately.

It forms a step in the Emotional Awareness Process (EAP) and the Compassionate
Choice Process (CCP), which have been developed as therapeutic techniques
grounded in both Buddhist and neuroscientific contexts.

Two case examples of application of the processes illustrate how these new therapeutic interventions may prove beneficial in clinical practice. Lastly, more potential applications are proposed, and possible limitations, future projects and research noted.


How does loving-kindness meditation alter brain and body?

Mascaro, J. S., Darcher, A., Negi, L. T., & Raison, C. (2015). The neural mediators of kindness-based meditation: a theoretical model. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 109. To access full text, click here, then open PDF.

brain-budAbstract. Although kindness-based contemplative practices are increasingly employed by clinicians and cognitive researchers to enhance prosocial emotions, social cognitive skills, and well-being, and as a tool to understand the basic workings of the social mind, we lack a coherent theoretical model with which to test the mechanisms by which kindness-based meditation may alter the brain and body.

Here we link contemplative accounts of compassion and lovingkindness practices with research from social cognitive neuroscience and social psychology to generate predictions about how diverse practices may alter brain structure and function and related aspects of social cognition.

Contingent on the nuances of the practice, kindness-based meditation may enhance the neural systems related to faster and more basic perceptual or motor simulation processes, simulation of another’s affective body state, slower and higher-level perspective-taking, modulatory processes such as emotion regulation and self/other discrimination, and combinations thereof.

This theoretical model will be discussed alongside bestpractices for testing such a model and potential implications and applications of future work.

The neuroscience of mindfulness and contemplative practice

Paulson, S., Davidson, R., Jha, A., & Kabat‐Zinn, J. (2013). Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1303(1), 87-104.

Abstract. Many of us go through our daily lives on autopilot, not fully aware of our conscious experiences. In a discussion moderated by Steve Paulson, executive producer and host of To the Best of Our Knowledge, neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha and clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn explore the role of consciousness in mental and physical health, how we can train our minds to be more flexible and adaptable, and cutting-edge neuroscience findings about the transformation of consciousness through mindfulness and contemplative practice.

Read an edited transcript of the discussion that occurred in February at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.