Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART)

Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness is a long and dense paper that attempts to blend knowledge about ancient meditation practices with modern neuroscience in a comprehensive way.

It gets a bit more into details and neurology than I or most laypeople could follow, but I think it contains some really nice secular pointers.

S-ART refers to three components of mindfulness, Self - Awareness, Regulation, & Transcendence:
  •  Self-Awareness - a meta-awareness
  •  Self-Regulation - an ability to effectively modulate one's behavior
  •  Self-Transcendence - a positive relationship between self and other that transcends self-focused needs and increases prosocial characteristics.
This triad "illustrates a method for becoming aware of the conditions that cause (and remove) distortions or biases."

Relevant perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral neuropsychological processes are highlighted as supporting mechanisms for S-ART, including:
  • intention and motivation
  • attention regulation
  • emotion regulation
  • extinction and reconsolidation
  • prosociality
  • non-attachment and decentering
"mindful awareness is thought to be critical for improving access and insight toward subject-object relations, such that the most fundamental nature of objects (including the self) is perceived "as they truly are," without distortions or biases inherent in cognition. This undistorted form of insight or experiencing is also referred to as “bare attention,” perception without interpretation."

Analysis of a number of different mindfulness scales used in research resulted in five facets of mindfulness including:
  • Observing - An enhanced capacity for noticing or attending to internal and external experiences
  • Describing - An enhanced capacity for noting and labeling internal experiences (feelings, images, and thoughts)
  • Awareness - An enhanced capacity for acting with present-centered awareness rather than on “automatic pilot”—lost in the past or the future
  • Non-Judgement - An enhanced ability to take a non-evaluative, non-judgmental stance toward inner thoughts, images, and feelings and outer experiences
  • Non-Reactivity - An enhanced ability to allow thoughts, images, and feelings to come and go without reacting to them or getting carried away by them

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