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The neuroscience of mindfulness
We generally think of mindfulness as an idea that has been around for thousands of years, originally emerging out of Buddhist traditions. Many Buddhist researchers are doing great studies showing that mindfulness has an impact on many aspects of human experience.
I have a bit of a problem with that. When you understand the underlying physiology of mindfulness, you begin to see that any discussion about human change, learning, education, even politics and social issues, ends up being about mindfulness. That’s because mindfulness, in some ways, is simply the opposite of mindlessness. And mindlessness is the cause of a tremendous amount of human suffering.
I have a problem with something as important as deeper thinking being linked to any religion. Not because I have anything against Buddhism or against any religion at all. (Of all the organized religions, Buddhism appears to be one that generates a minimum of human conflict.) The reason I have a problem is it’s hard enough getting across the idea that being mindful is useful, without activating a threat response from the billions of non-buddhists who could benefit from it.