Observing Versus Judging: A Brief Review of Mindfulness


BPS Research Digest briefly reviews some of the key research into the role of mindfulness meditation in therapeutic contexts, looking at both the apparent positives and possible negatives that can emerge while observing oneself without judgment.

The Psychology of Mindfulness, Digested (BPS Research Digest, June 12, 2015)


  1. “Dr. Lazar’s team hypothesized that long-term meditation practice might also result in changes in the brain’s physical structure, possibly reflecting increased use of specific brain regions. In fact, they found that brain regions associated with attention, interoception (sensitivity to stimuli originating inside the body), and sensory processing were thicker in the meditation participants than they were in matched controls. These areas included the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning complex cognitive behaviors, and the right anterior insula, which is associated with bodily sensations and emotions. “As predicted,” says Dr. Lazar, “the brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker in meditators than in the controls. These findings provide the first evidence that alterations in brain structure are associated with meditation practice.”[1]
    There are thirteen different types of meditation, at least according to Mindfulness – a Practical Guide to Awakening, by Joseph Goldstein, Each type of meditation contains each of the four foundations of mindfulness – Contemplating our experience internally externally, and both; Contemplating the nature of impermanence – the arising, the passing away, and both the arising and passing away in regard to our experience; Establishing enough mindfulness to simply recognize what is unfolding moment to moment – without mental commentary – and to remain mindful of what’s happening; Abiding without clinging to anything that enters our realm of experience..
    I began meditating about 20 years ago. I found it helped to quite my mind, including helping to eliminate the racing thoughts I had. I began meditating due to a paragraph I read in a book about how meditation helped to increase creativity, and it was nearly 5 years later before I attended a formal meditation group. The instructor, a Western Buddhist priest, told me, among other things, that it is recommended that those who experience difficulties during sitting meditation try walking meditation instead. Being gentle with oneself is also important in Buddhism and meditation. Back off and don’t try so hard if you develop problems. Meditation can bring about a calm acceptance of what is, but one shouldn’t try to rush it or try too hard.
    Growing the Brain through Meditation, On The Brain: The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter, Fall 2006, Vol. 12 No. 3

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