Saint Valentine is the patron saint of love. Since mindfulness is probably a component of any loving relationship, including friendship and self-affirmation, today is an apt day to post some related resources. My task was made easy because this week has seen a flurry of mindfulness articles published and posted.
Dr. Catherine Kerr's research on mindfulness was in the news. (Click to watch a talk give by her.) From "A neural basis for benefits of meditation," the press release issued by Brown University:
“We think we’re the first group to propose an underlying neurophysiological mechanism that directly links the actual practice of mindful awareness of breath and body sensations to the kinds of cognitive and emotional benefits that mindfulness confers,” said lead author Catherine Kerr, assistant professor (research) of family medicine at the Alpert Medical School and director of translational neuroscience for the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown.
Click to read the study "Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation" (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience).
Now findings from my laboratory and others have revealed a surprising mechanism for these benefits [of mindfulness]. Mindfulness training works, at least in part, by strengthening the brain's ability to pay attention. Although video games and medication can also sharpen focus..., mindfulness training uniquely builds the ability to direct attention at will through the sea of internal and external stimulation while also allowing for greater awareness of what is happening in the moment. Whether research findings in small groups of individuals can be scaled up to society at large remains to be seen. Yet the overarching message seems to be that the more people engage in such training, the happier and healthier we all will be.
Finally, here are some apps for your smart phone to support you in meditation, mindfulness, or breathing (I have tried the first four):
- Insight Timer (you don't need to join the community to use it)
- The Mindfulness App
- Others for iPhone or iPad (from Prison Dharma Network)
Have a mindful remainder of Valentine's Day.
Image: Flowers that arrived yesterday for me; a much-appreciated surprise!