So as I’m sure you already know, when you choose to embark upon a mindfulness meditation practice, one of the tricks (or benefits depending upon your perspective) is to simply become mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Rather than attaching to them, a person assumes the witnessing position. In doing so, it becomes possible to see just how pervasive that monkey mind of yours can be.
Now, according to the Montreal Gazette, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver are discovering that study participants who watch their brain activity on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (aka MRI) screen can get similar witnessing benefits as those found in a mindfulness meditation practice. What’s the result of this biofeedback technique of sorts? You guessed it, change in behavior.
The research suggests that awareness of negative or detrimental thoughts — made possible by seeing them on a screen — allows research subjects to control those thoughts.
Many patients who suffer from depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behaviour are not aware of negative thoughts, said co-author Kalina Christoff, a psychology professor at UBC. The technology could be used in the future as a tool to help them become more aware…
…People who are coping with anxiety, trauma or depression often have negative thoughts of which they are not aware — until they become angry or grumpy and snap at people, she said.
“We think this helps train you to become more self-reflective.”…
…The study could also have implications for treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers who come back from Afghanistan, for example, often have obsessive thoughts. And so with the MRI training psychologists could help them “catch” repetitive thoughts before they do too much damage.
Read more about this study that also suggests MRI imaging, like meditation, can help people suffering with PTSD here.