May 21, 2014

Mind Wandering During Meditation Could be Good...

Directive or guided meditation, like mindfulness, see mind wandering as something to be avoided; whereas psychologists think mind wandering may be beneficial, even necessary.

A Norwegian study had some meditators practising directive meditation and others non-directive meditation, while their brains were scanned.

One of the study’s authors, Svend Davanger, said:

“The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”
“This area of the brain has its highest activity when we rest.
It represents a kind of basic operating system, a resting network that takes over when external tasks do not require our attention.
It is remarkable that a mental task like nondirective meditation results in even higher activity in this network than regular rest.

The study’s authors point out that the…

“…types of meditation that allow spontaneous thoughts, images, sensations, memories, and emotions to emerge and pass freely without actively controlling or pursuing them, over time may reduce stress by increasing awareness and acceptance of emotionally charged experiences.
“…mind wandering and activation of the default mode network in general may serve introspective and adaptive functions beyond rumination and daydreaming.
Potentially useful functions would include mental simulations, using autobiographical memory retrieval to envision the future and conceiving the perspective of others.” 

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