…integrating thinking and feeling is a desirable mental state, but many people have a hard time reasoning clearly when they’re upset, or bringing emotion into conceptual activities like planning.
Researchers have recently found that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is very involved with weaving thought and feeling together. They’ve also shown that the conscious control of attention is centered in the ACC, which is measurably strengthened by activities that train attention such as meditation. In another example, studies have shown that tuning into the emotional states of others–a central component of empathy–depends on the activity of the insula. The insula also handles interoception, the sensing of the internal state of the body, so mental activities such as sensory awareness activate and eventually thicken the insula, and thereby increase empathy.
In effect, investigators have found that a method used for one purpose (meditation, or sensory awareness) can stimulate and strengthen brain regions that are also involved with another purpose (integrating thinking and feeling, or empathy).
—Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, and teacher with
a great interest in the intersection of psychology, neurology, and Buddhism.
He has written and taught extensively about the essential inner skills of personal well-being,psychological growth, and contemplative practice–as well as about relationships,family life, and raising children. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA,Rick did management consulting before earning his Ph.D.
See free, easy Meditation Instructions on this blog.