Monday, January 25 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Secular and religious sources often both assert that ‘mindfulness begins with the breath’- so why is breath awareness still so rarely studied, particularly in the contemplative sciences? This presentation will explore the theoretical basis of breath awareness as a vehicle for personal transformation. The importance of breath awareness (and sensory awareness more broadly) will then be contextualized via neuroimaging evidence suggesting that stress-evoked sensory inhibition contributes to depression vulnerability. After reviewing existing progress and challenges in researching breath awareness, a novel paradigm for the behavioral and neuroimaging investigation of breath awareness will be introduced, including some novel neuroimaging data demonstrating the profound effects of breath-focused attention on cortical activity. Finally, future directions in incorporating objective assessment of breath awareness as a training/intervention feedback tool will be discussed.
Norman Farb, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where he directs the Regulatory and Affective Dynamics laboratory (www.radlab.zone). He studies the neuroscience of the self and human emotion, with a focus on how biases in self-representation shape emotions to determine well-being. His research focuses on both basic science questions such as the neuroscience of interoception, the awareness of the body’s internal state, and applied questions on how best to deliver mindfulness training and assess participant progress.
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