Brain power

Using meditation to shape the self

In a recent journal paper in Trends in Cognitive Science, a typology of meditation techniques was divided into three high-level categories.

Attentional meditation practices train people to intentionally initiate, direct, and/or sustain attention while strengthening awareness of thinking, feeling, and perceiving. Sometimes known as meta-awareness, this capability can make people’s minds wander less which has been shown to make them happier.

Constructive meditation practices train the systematic alteration of people’s thoughts and emotions, for example by developing patience, equanimity, kindness and compassion, or by restructuring priorities and values toward what is truly meaningful in life. The two key techniques of constructive meditation are cognitive reappraisal, a conscious shifting of the response we feel about situations and events; and perspective taking, the consideration of how you or another person would feel if placed in a particular situation. Perspective taking is especially important in the construction of social emotions, and in reducing intergroup prejudice (or in other words, being accepting of diversity).

Deconstructive meditation practices train people to reflect on their perception, emotion, and cognition, and to generate insights into their internal models of the self, others, and the world. This is done through a process of self-inquiry, the identification of assumptions about a particular object or experience in order to question their logical consistency, or by directly examining an experience or emotion through a conscious dissection into its component parts of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.

Meditation is an important field of study because it amount to a series of structured techniques for reprogramming our brains. While meditation may not be something you can immediately apply inside your organisation, what it tells us about how we think and can change how we think are powerful tools to have in our management toolbox.

Source: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, ScienceQuartz

Stephen Bounds

Stephen Bounds is an Information and Knowledge Management Specialist with a wide range of experience across the government and private sectors. As founding editor of RealKM and Executive, Information Management at Cordelta, Stephen provides clear strategic thinking along with a hands-on approach to help organisations successfully develop and implement modern information systems.

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