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23.04.2014
Mindfulness is a modern concept, which describes the adoption of a new mindset, which can measurably alter ones outlook and mood and is used as an empowering tool in the self management of anxiety and stress. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware in every possible moment, while keeping a non-judgmental outlook and at the same time observing your own bodily and emotional responses. To do this you should begin to observe the ‘self’ and any reactions to situations and others in a dispassionate way.  In other words, not be a slave to our own thoughts and the emotions that they generate, but to step back and assess before the usual reaction takes place. This powerful course will teach you everything that you need to know about Mindfulness and how to start using the techniques and principles in your daily life.
The Mindfulness Diploma Course will take you up to 150 hours to complete working from home. The Pali word for mindfulness is Sati, which actually means activity and is also translated as awareness. While reading many explanations of mindfulness, I came to realize that a better understanding of mindfulness requires a tremendous amount of reading and comprehension.
So where does that leave the average person, like you and I, in terms of gaining a better understanding? Anapana Sati, the meditation on in-and-out breathing, is the first subject of meditation expounded by the Buddha. I think this is highly relevant that it was Buddha’s first teaching on meditation, because all things begin and end with the breath. And while I do think that complete comprehension of mindfulness goes far beyond mere words, I feel confident that the breath can lead us to that deeper understanding. If we can train our minds to be constantly aware of this breath, we become more and more mindful of thoughts and feelings (physical and emotional) that arise and fall away. We all know that we are constantly breathing, now all we have to do is pay attention to this. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. We will be provided with an authorization token (please note: passwords are not shared with us) and will sync your accounts for you. The scientific interest in meditation and mindfulness practice has recently seen an unprecedented surge. Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in mindfulness-based approaches, primarily driven by growing evidence of their beneficial effects on physical and mental well-being. To consolidate these largely theoretical propositions, it will be crucial to advance our understanding of the underlying cognitive, emotional, and neural processes. While significant differences exist between Buddhist views of mindfulness and modern psychological adaptations, there is broad agreement that a clearly formulated mental training, usually referred to as meditation, is required for developing and improving levels of mindfulness (Chiesa and Malinowski, 2011).
The Liverpool Mindfulness Model presented in Figure 1 aims to capture and integrate the core components that are involved in mindfulness practice and to provide a framework for directing future research (Malinowski, 2012). The model structures the process into five main tiers: the driving motivational factors (tier 1) determine whether and how an individual engages in the mind training (tier 2). Training and refining attention skills are central to most psychological and Buddhist conceptualizations of mindfulness practices (Lutz et al., 2008) and are the main concern of this review.
Of particular interest to this review are the attentional processes that constitute the backbone of these practices. Figure 2A summarizes the assumed process of focused meditation by considering three layers: the phenomenological experience of the meditator, the underlying attentional processes, and the brain networks subserving these processes.
Evidence gained with a variety of methodological approaches clearly indicates that mindfulness meditation increases the efficiency of attentional functions, reflected in performance increases as well as changes in neural activity and underlying neural architecture. As Figure 2 schematically outlines, sustaining focused attention over extended periods of time requires the interplay of several attentional processes.
Employing cross-sectional comparisons, several studies reported significantly better performance for meditators than non-meditators on this task (see Figure 3A) and found that task performance was also related to lifetime meditation experience (Chan and Woollacott, 2007; Teper and Inzlicht, 2013) and levels of self-reported mindfulness (Moore and Malinowski, 2009). However, to gain an understanding of the cognitive and neurophysiological processes that are reflected in performance changes on attentional control tasks, it is important to study the underlying mechanisms in a purer and more detailed fashion. A recently published study offers a further explanation for the lack of meditation-specific behavioral effects. The ancient meaning of mindfulness can be translated into “to remember.” Mindfullness means learning to remember to pay attention to the present moment as it is occurring without judging ourselves.
This is much like the scientific method: observe what is happening objectively and then try to understand it. Mindfulness is about exercising and expanding our awareness to differentiate between what is actually happening and what our minds add to what is happening. For me, the goal was not to find something to identify with, but to be in good shape whether things went well or not. An example I sometimes use in class is, I’ll have people sit across from each other and one person will talk and the other will listen. There are now many trials and scientific studies that have helped define what mindfulness training can do.
Not only have studies shown statistically significant results for the benefits in Table 1, but recent studies have identified a probable mechanism. Stress causes decreased size and function of the pre-frontal cortex (as revealed by fMRI brain scanning), hippocampus, anterior cingulated gyrus, insula, and increased function of the amygdala (especially the right amygdala which is more gloomy than the more cheerful left amygdala).
Meditation can be looked upon as the easy part and is done usually in a quiet place by oneself. It can be, but I teach secular mindfulness.  Secular mindfulness has taken selective aspects of ancient practices and developed ways of using them in everyday life. One type of mediation is called “focusing meditation” where you focus on one thing—like your own breath.
Another type of meditation is “open space” or insight meditation where you allow the mind to go where in wants in the field of awareness. For other information about mindfulness training, check out Mindfulness Northwest, Seattle Insight Meditation Society or Dr.
Many businesses and individuals are introducing powerful Mindfulness techniques into their daily routines to help relieve stress in the work place and to keep a positive outlook and to help adopt a more productive approach in life. Whether you are looking to use the Mindfulness techniques to help yourself or others, upon completion of this course you can work as a Mindfulness Practitioner either on a 1-2-1 basis or with groups of people, either in a therapy practice or in the workplace. By adopting a mindful perspective, we observe our experience but don’t get caught up in it.
By slowing down and investigating our thoughts, feelings and experiences more carefully, we create space and time to come up with wise responses to the difficulties in our lives. We are less wrapped up in our own thoughts and feelings and so have greater ability to take others into account. We experience the world in an open way that is not so weighed down by unhelpful psychological patterns and cultivates gratitude. Through Mindfulness, we see that events, thoughts and feelings always change, and we can learn to bear experiences more lightly, and let them go.
There is no time limit for completing this course, it can be studied in your own time at your own pace. Even some of the most scholarly Monks that have written essays on this subject often say that much of the understanding is beyond words.
If you have no breath, then there is no thought, no feeling, no sensation, no desire, no clinging, no attachment. This means that you will not need to remember your user name and password in the future and you will be able to login with the account you choose to sync, with the click of a button. This page doesn't support Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience. After an initial phase of presenting beneficial effects of mindfulness practice in various domains, research is now seeking to unravel the underlying psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms.
In parallel to research evaluating the effectiveness of these approaches, a second line of investigation concentrates on unraveling the psychological and neurophysiological processes involved. The refinement of attention regulation skills features centrally in all conceptualizations of mindfulness training and recent neurophysiological evidence shows that regular, brief engagement in a simple mindfulness meditation significantly improves attentional control processes (Moore et al., 2012).


Regular engagement in mindfulness practice develops and refines the mental core processes (tier 3), primarily based on the refinement of attentional functions that interact with and facilitate regulatory processes of emotions and cognitions. As outlined in Figure 1, the training of attention skills is thought to underpin emotional and cognitive flexibility, bringing about the ability to maintain non-judging awareness of one's own thoughts, feelings, and experiences in more general terms.
Within cognitive neuroscience attention is commonly thought of in terms of three main functions: (1) the modulation of arousal, alertness, and attentional engagement, (2) the function of stimulus selection, and (3) the function of attentional control processes. On the phenomenological level the meditator will engage with the practice by focusing on the relevant meditation object, for instance, the somatosensory sensation accompanying ones breathing. Similarly, compared to an active control condition, significant improvements in Stroop performance were observed when mindfulness was induced by means of three 20-minute mindfulness sessions, delivered via audio-recording (Wenk-Sormaz, 2005). Improvements in Stroop performance from T1 to T3 were as large in the control group as they were in the meditators.
Teper and Inzlicht (2013) investigated attentional control mechanisms in the Stroop task by focusing on the neural processes involved during the response phase, rather than on the stimulus processing stage discussed so far. This perspective highlights the close link between attention regulation and emotion regulation skills (also see Figure 1) and raises a question concerning their refinement: do improvements in emotional regulation skills precede those in cognitive processing or vice versa and are executive control processes the basis for improved emotion regulation skills? Richard Berger, professor emeritus for the School of Medicine, developed his mindfulness practice 12 years ago. Berger currently teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the IMA and for the UW Center for Child and Family Well-being and is studying methods to teach secular mindful techniques to children.
Sounds simple, but many of us are often carried out of the present moment by thoughts, planning for the future, and rumination about what has happened in the past.
And I’ll give the first person something to say, like, “You never pick up after yourself.” And the other person will be a little irritated even though this isn’t a personal thing.
We work on having a larger perspective on emotional reactions instead of having no space between what you think and feel and what you do next.
The best studied program is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR), which is what I teach at the IMA. After eight weeks of MBSR training, the same fMRI studies show anatomical growth in these same areas and a shift in emotional-related activity to the more cheerful left amygdala. The informal practice of mindfulness can involve anything at all and can be and should be practiced in as many aspects of life as possible. The goal of meditation is not to become a better meditator but to practice to lead a life useful to yourself, others, and the world with less suffering and more happiness. Class participants report that mindfulness positively affects their life at home and at work. Berger will be teaching two separate mindfulness classes at the IMA starting January 21 and at the Center for Child and Family Well-Being starting January 29. This course is fully certified via the IANLPC, upon completion of the course assessment you will receive your Mindfulness Diploma Certificates from the IANLPC and Centre of Excellence.
Mindfulness helps us get greater clarity on what is happening in our minds, and in our lives.
We create space between the urge to react and our actions themselves, and we can make considered and creative decisions about how to behave.
We can be more considerate, empathic, compassionate, sensitive and flexible in our relationships. We are better attuned to ourselves, to others, and to the world, and able to act more skilfully, based on present need, rather than past conditioning. We are more able to enjoy well-being that does not depend on things going “right” or always being right.
Advances in understanding these processes are required for improving and fine-tuning mindfulness-based interventions that target specific conditions such as eating disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. A more precise understanding of these processes will facilitate the refinement of mindfulness-based interventions and will allow the development and fine-tuning of programs that account for specific psychological or physiological conditions and cater for individual circumstances and predispositions. These results provide important insights into the development of core processes of mindfulness and establish a useful reference point when investigating the effects of more elaborate or expanded practices, or when considering the interactions between attention and emotion regulation skills. This general understanding is echoed by other authors who explain mindfulness as being “characterized by dispassionate, non-evaluative, and sustained moment-to-moment awareness of perceptible mental states and processes.
Improvements in these core processes result in a changed and more balanced mental stance or attitude (tier 4), that will result in a positive outcome (tier 5) in terms of physical and mental well-being, and the quality of behavior. The majority of the employed paradigms discussed so far were not geared toward separating out the involvement of the different attentional functions or networks. Reflecting these behavioral outcomes, meditators and controls did not differ regarding a typical neural signature of response conflict, a negative ERP deflection peaking between 400 and 600 ms post stimulus, which is usually correlated with task performance (Liotti et al., 2000). When he is not on campus, he enjoys kayaking, reading, and life with his wife in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. While these thoughts are often useful, we can get carried away and may mistake these things occurring in our mind with what is actually happening. You also notice the limitations: genetics, your environment, how you’re affected by everything, and where free will comes into play. Mindfulness training can result in clearer thinking, less mental rumination, better decision-making, less stress, improved self-regulation, executive mental function, and many other benefits.
It can also be complimentary in that it provides a mechanism to promote happiness, decrease suffering, promote empathy and compassion, gratefulness, and forgiveness.
It’s not meant to be therapeutic, it’s educational, but people report less depression, less depersonalization, less emotional exhaustion.
There are also meditation groups and classes offered by Hall Health Center and by UW Medicine for medical faculty and residents.
This course will take you up to 150 hours to complete from home, there is no time limit for completing the course it can be studied in you own time at your own pace. This review presents a theoretical framework that emphasizes the central role of attentional control mechanisms in the development of mindfulness skills. Each tier and component of this model, as well as the interactions and assumed causal relationships between them, warrant further detailed research and render the model a suitable roadmap in this endeavor.
Figure 2B provides a schematic presentation of the brain areas associated with these networks. The inner circle outlines the phenomenological layer, presenting the typical sequence (clockwise) a meditator will go through. In the moment the mind loses the focus on the object and mind wandering occurs, the default mode network will become more active. This definition captures the central features of mindfulness practice and indicates the relevance of sustained attention in this process. Importantly, most tasks tapping sustained attention will also recruit attentional control functions, such as the monitoring and updating of information, mental set shifting, and the inhibition of proponent, but non-relevant responses (Miyake et al., 2000). Participants new to meditation practice engaged in daily 10-minute sessions of mindful breathing meditation over a period of 16 weeks and performed the Stroop task before (T1), half-way through (T2), and after completion of the 16-week meditation period (T3).
Thus, although clear evidence for better Stroop performance of meditators than non-meditators has been found in cross-sectional comparisons, it did not emerge in the same way in a longitudinal study. It is conceivable that with extended task exposure this anticipatory regulation was perfected in both groups, possibly resulting in the observed ceiling effect.
The authors found enhanced ERN amplitudes in meditators compared to controls after a Stroop error was committed. Today, he is a certified mindfulness facilitator, having studied at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, and receiving his certification from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA five years ago. They are perceptions and hypothesis and need to be accepted but sometimes not taken seriously. It discusses the phenomenological level of experience during meditation, the different attentional functions that are involved, and relates these to the brain networks that subserve these functions. For example, neurobiological processes of wanting and liking may be of great importance when supporting people with addictions or binge eating disorders (Kristeller and Wolever, 2011), while the monitoring and self-regulation of cognitive and emotional states may be emphasized in programs tailored to the needs of individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Zylowska et al., 2008).
These two forms of training have been explained as Focused Attention (FA) and Open Monitoring (OM) meditation practices (Lutz et al., 2008), respectively. The right frontal and right parietal cortex and the thalamus are involved in alerting functions.


The middle circle relates the attentional processes that lie underneath, while the outer circle represents the different brain networks that are involved in carrying out these functions. Sooner or later the meditator will recognize the mind wandering by means of the attention monitoring function and the involvement of the salience network.
ERPs were recorded concurrently to study the neuronal changes of attentional control processes.
A possible explanation might be that the repeated administration of the same task mandated by the longitudinal design lead to a performance ceiling.
Further analysis revealed that meditation experience improved attentional control primarily in an indirect way, by fostering the acceptance of emotional states, an aspect of mindful emotion regulation abilities that was assessed by self-report (Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale, Cardaciotto et al., 2008). These changes then allow us to decrease our stress response, which leads to improved physical and mental health. It has mental and physical benefits, but someone with severe depression might not have the energy for it, and if they do it they should be under supervision. On the basis of currently available empirical evidence specific processes as to how attention exerts its positive influence are considered and it is concluded that meditation practice appears to positively impact attentional functions by improving resource allocation processes. Programs addressing recurrent depression may focus on recognizing and stepping out of automatic modes of thinking and feeling (Kuyken et al., 2008) and the development of self-determination and resilience has been suggested for the treatment of severe mental illness (Davis and Kurzban, 2012). Although conceptually FA and OM can be separated, even simple forms of mindfulness training will entail both components. The superior parietal cortex, temporal parietal junction, frontal eye fields, and superior colliculus are involved in orienting. When mind wandering is detected, the meditator lets go of the distracting train of thought or experience by means of attentional disengagement and the involvement of the executive network.
The glass brain slices show activation differences between T1 and T3 for each group and congruency.
The results showed that meditation practice influenced the neuronal responses to the Stroop stimuli in two important ways. This suggestion is supported by the fact that performance did not improve in either group after T2 and that accuracy was above 95% for incongruent trials. Further analysis revealed that the socio-emotional functioning was influenced by enhancement of response inhibition skills, lending support to the hypothesis that attentional control skills may underpin the development of emotion regulation skills. If things go well professionally you feel you’re doing well, but if things go bad or you can’t do it anymore, you feel you’re doing bad or are free falling.
As a result, attentional resources are allocated more fully during early processing phases which subsequently enhance further processing. Initially a practitioner will engage more with the FA component to develop attentional stability, clarity, and awareness of the current mental state. The subsequent return to the meditation object is achieved by shifting the focus back to the object, a function of attention involving the executive and the orienting network.
Similarly, Moore and Malinowski (2009) reported a positive correlation between self-reported mindfulness and performance on the d2-test of attention (Brickenkamp and Zilmer, 1998). The task requires participants to rapidly name or indicate the color of the font a word is presented in (see Figure 3B). Salmon-colored areas indicate a decrease in activation and green areas indicate activation increase. Nevertheless the study highlights the need for purer designs that do not conflate too many components. Firstly, it led to a relative increase of lateral posterior N2 amplitudes (160–240 ms) over both hemispheres, irrespective of stimulus congruency (Figure 3C). I decided to let myself free fall and I found a book on mindfulness that was “truthy.” It wasn’t “the truth” in the sense of being absolute, but it had truth in it.
Part of mindfulness is facing things and learning not to distract yourself as a means of coping. Neural changes resulting from a pure form of mindfulness practice that is central to most mindfulness programs are considered from the perspective that they constitute a useful reference point for future research. Only then will it be possible to engage in a meaningful way in OM practice, which entails a moment by moment attentiveness to anything that occurs in experience.
Recent neuroimaging evidence further subdivides the function of the latter network, suggesting that the dorsal ACC, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, and the neighboring anterior insula constitute a salience network. This process can unfold within a few brief moments or can extend over longer periods of time. Furthermore, mindfulness practitioners performed significantly better on this test than their matched non-meditating controls (Moore and Malinowski, 2009). On the right hand side ERPs (line graphs) and ERP-component amplitudes (bar graphs) are depicted for left and right posterior sites (C) and for posterior central sites (D). These changes in the meditation group were primarily driven by increased activity in the left medial and lateral occipitotemporal areas for congruent stimuli, which was contrasted by decreased activity in similar brain areas in the control group. The finding that performance on executive control tasks was affected by emotion regulation abilities might explain why cross-sectional studies tend to find performance differences, whereas the longitudinal study did not.
This can conflict with other programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, which tells you to distract yourself. Furthermore, possible interrelations between the improvement of attentional control and emotion regulation skills are discussed. With increasing experience, OM practice will become less reliant on FA and can eventually be maintained without focusing on any explicit object.
With increasing levels of expertise, periods of sustained focus and attentional stability may become more and more extensive (Wallace, 2006), whereas for a beginner, even longer periods of mind wandering may pass unnoticed. Similarly, Valentine and Sweet (1999) and Pagnoni and Cekic (2007) reported better performance of meditators in sustained attention tasks. High proficiency in this task is thus thought to indicate good attentional control and relatively low automaticity or impulsivity of one's responses.
The second difference between meditators and controls was observed in the P3 component, peaking between 310 and 380 ms, primarily for incongruent stimuli. Although described as separate, these processes and brain network activations may indeed overlap and occur in parallel, expressed in Figure 2A by rendering the components of the middle and outer circle as partially overlapping. In other studies the attentional blink paradigm was employed to investigate how a three-month intensive meditation retreat improves meditators ability to sustain the focus of attention, as compared to a non-meditating matched control group (Slagter et al., 2007, 2009). While the participants in the control group exhibited an increase of the P3 amplitude for incongruent stimuli, a decrease was observed for the meditation group, attributed to reduced activity in lateral occipitotemporal and inferior temporal regions of the right hemisphere (Figure 3D). So you should definitely let your therapist or treatment professionals know before you start mindfulness training.
For instance, evidence from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) indicates sustained activity in the salience network during meditation (Baron Short et al., 2010). Performance to the second target in the stream typically suffers if it appears within 500 ms after the first target, the so-called attentional blink effect (Shapiro et al., 1997). This performance detriment was significantly reduced after the meditators had completed their meditation retreat.
In parallel, the amplitude of the P3b event-related potential (ERP) elicited by the first target stimulus, was decreased in meditators.
The participants with the greatest decrease of the P3b amplitude also showed the largest decrease in attentional blink size (Slagter et al., 2007).
Because the P3b component is considered to index the allocation of attentional resources, these results suggest that the meditation training improved the meditators ability to sustain attentional engagement in a more balanced and continuous fashion. An additional analysis of the phase of oscillatory theta activity following successfully detected second targets showed a reduced variability across trials, a signature of more consistent deployment of attention in meditators (Slagter et al., 2009).




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