Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Psychology: "mindfulness" in science (audio)

Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Nyanatiloka; Professor Ellen Langer (Harvard/, Krista Tippett (, 5-29-14)
What could Sid or the Buddha teach Ziggy Freud on the psychotherapeutic couch?
Note the Buddha heads behind Dr. Freud's chair. This is the original therapy couch (HW)
Langer says keep it simple; notice things rather than practicing mindlessness (Kris Krug)
Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness
Counter Clockwise
Harvard University social psychologist Prof. Ellen Langer's unconventional studies have long suggested what brain science is now revealing: 

Our "experiences" are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them, that is, the labels we add to our cognitions. Naming something "play" rather than "work" can mean the difference between delight and drudgery. 

She is one of the early pioneers -- along with figures like Buddhist researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson -- drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness and between mindfulness and health. 

Going deeper
"Mind" (citta) is a process, not a thing.
Buddhism is not mere material "science" (the particle physics the Buddha talked about in terms of kalapas) but goes beyond materiality to mental- and mystical-experience, detailing processes that science has yet to acknowledge, detail, or come anywhere near explaining.
The Buddha meant two distinct practices, mindfulness/clarity (sati-sampajañña) -- present time awareness that does not reach back into the past or project forward into the future -- and the fourfold setting up of mindfulness (satipatthana/vipassana) as a formal meditation practice that, on top of absorption, leads to insight and liberation of mind and heart.
Buddha's Brain (Dr. Rick Hanson)
Dr. Langer describes just the initial practice of "mindfulness," bare awareness, which is possible without formal meditation or yoga.

She recommends the basic practice of “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
This is bare awareness, which in a Buddhist context is practiced as "presence of mind" in the absence of the internal distractions that come from discursive elaboration (thinking about), mental proliferation (papañca), and interpretation/color-commenting based on our mental formations and fabrications (sankharas).
Psychologists distinguish "top-down processing" (projecting, seeing what one thinks is there, going from the mind to the outside world) from "bottom-up processing" (going from what's actually there to the mind that perceives it and attempts to understand it free of prejudice).

What is "mind"?
This gray material goo is not "mind."
MIND in Buddhism can refer to consciousness (viññāṇa), knowing (ñāna, one of the "psychic powers" or iddhis, a synonym of wisdom/paññā, the best and hightest being aññā), discrete mental processes (cittas), the "mind door" near the heart, perception (saññā), the ~50 mental formations (sankharas) led by volition/will (which is the basis of karma), or more comprehensively as the Four Aggregates (Sanskrit skandhas, Pali khandhas) apart from the first, namely, form or materiality (rūpa). More

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