3category.doc - NOTICE this is the authors version of a...

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NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Consciousness and Cognition . Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Consciousness and Cognition , 2010, vol 19, pg 1110– 1119. Focused Attention, Open Monitoring and Automatic Self-Transcending: Categories to Organize Meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese Traditions Fred Travis 1,2 and Jonathan Shear 3 1 Center for the Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition Maharishi University of Management 1000 North 4 th Street, Fairfield, IA 52557 2 Maharishi University of Management Research Institute Maharishi Vedic City, IA 52557 3 Department of Philosophy Virginia Commonwealth University 817 West Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23284-9002 For Reprints: Fred Travis Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition 1000 North 4 th Street, FM 683 Fairfield, IA 52557 641 472 1209 [email protected] 1
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Acknowledgements: We thank Steve Guich for his comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. 2
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Abstract This paper proposes a third meditation-category— automatic self-transcending — to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automatic self- transcending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with f ocused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring , which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open Monitoring , characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automatic self-transcending , characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects. Keywords: Meditation, Mindfulness, TM, Transcendental Meditation, coherence, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, gamma, alpha 3
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Meditation practices are embedded in different cultures, worldviews, and traditions, which confounds discussions between meditation traditions. Neuroscience provides the language of brain functioning to discuss meditation practices. Brain patterns reflect the cognitive processes used in meditation practices (attention, feeling, reasoning, visualization), the way these processes are used (minimal- to highly-controlled cognitive processing), and the objects of meditation (thoughts, images, emotions, breath) (see (Shear, 2006)). Thus, brain patterns could
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