WHAT IS IT?
During the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has gone from being a fringe topic of scientific investigation to being an occasional replacement for psychotherapy, tool of corporate well-being, widely implemented educational practice, and “key to building more resilient soldiers.”
Attention is what we are focusing on in the moment. Attention is limited, selective, and a very basic component of our biological makeup.
Meta-attention is attention of attention. It is, what we think and how we feel about what we are noticing. The ability to pay attention to attention itself raises our cognitive functioning and enables response over reactivity. For example, when you become bored, your attention wanders. Sometimes something clicks and you are reminded you need to be paying attention. You can catch yourself and bring your attention back to the task at hand.
Meta-attention is the key to deep concentration and awareness. When your meta-attention becomes strong, you can keep your wandering mind on task. Rather than long periods of boredom of fidgeting, you can recover your attention quickly and often enough to experience continuity of your own experience, a more continuous attention, which is deep concentration.
Neuroscientist Julie Brefczynski-Lewis suggests that meditation is about mental training practices. Meditation encapsulates many different kinds of practices. In Mindfulness Meditation, the goal is to distinguish between two specific mental process: Attention and Meta-attention.
Mindfulness is a quality of being — the experience of being open and aware in the present moment, without reflexive judgment, automatic criticism or mind wandering.
Reduced rumination, or “mental spinning.”
Boosts to working memory.
Less emotional reactivity
More cognitive flexibility.
Other benefits. Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain's middle prefrontal lobe area. Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, including increased immune functioning, improvement to well-being and reduction in psychological distress. In addition, mindfulness meditation practice appears to increase information processing speed, as well as decrease task effort and having thoughts that are unrelated to the task at hand.
HOW TO MEDITATE
Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
Close your eyes. ...
Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally. Notice that you are breathing in, and breathing out.
Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
Notice your thoughts.
Keep your attention on your breath going in, and going out.
Notice how your thoughts change.
Remember that your first thoughts are not your fault. Many find that comforting.
The work is to choose an appropriate response.
If you are looking for regular meditation prompts, check out the Meditations area.
Davis, D. & Hayes, J. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness? Monitor on Psychology, July/August, 43 (7).
James W. (1980). The Principles of Psychology. In: Green CD, ed. Classics in the History of Psychology.
Gelles, D. How To Meditate. Retrieved April 12, 2015 from: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/how-to-meditate