Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #7

Meditations as Biological Interventions

Various benefits of meditations were already known to Buddhist practitioners for over two thousand and five hundred years. However, for scientists, particulally those in the Western world, it was inconceivable that meditation can even change the structure of brain. Nonetheless, as already discussed, rapid development of brain-research technologies, such as PET, fMRI, and EEG, have helped identify which neural changes in brain meditation has enhanced. As a result, the fact was revealed that meditations can intervene with biological changes in the brain. In other words, the mind training changes the brain, which subsequently results in emotional and behavioral changes so that patients can correct maladaptive moods and behaviors. Moreover, with fMRI, reaserchers can observe how strongly one region in the brain is connected to another region functionally. These studies have helped understand the mechanism of various mental disorders.   

As a basic study on structural changes in the brain, there is a well-known brain-research of taxi drivers in London . Marguire (2000) and the other researchers found that posterior hippocampi of London taxi drivers are significantly larager than those of non-taxi drivers. Hippocampus in human brain is considered to be responsible for spatial memory and navigation ability. The researchers also found that Hippocampal volume positively correlated to the amount of time the subjects drove as a taxi driver. Thus, the resaerch suggests that structural cahnges in the brain occurrs in accordance with environmental demand.  (Recommended Video: Taxi Driver's Brains http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9JPkUE2IJw ) 
  On the other hand, Davidson (2012) researched a type of meditation so called “Loving-kindness meditation” (p. 218). This meditation is widely practiced among Buddhists to cultivate non-discriminatory compassion for themselves and others. Usually, meditators start with wishing their own happiness. For the next, they wish for happiness of people they like. Finally, they expand the range of empathy to people they hate. Davidson (2012) monitored and recorded the brain activity of the meditators measured with fMRI. He found that those who practiced loving-kindness meditation showed significant changes in brain activity, particularly in Amygdala (p.222). There are even more sensational findings -- for instance, by Lazer (2005) -- that the middle Prefrontal Cortex is physically thicker in mindfulness meditation practitioners. 

 Concerning depression, Davidson (2012) similarly used the brain-research technologies in order to analyze the onset of depression. He explains that depression is characterized as overactivitiy in specific regions in the frontal cortex (p.174). Regarding these studies, another neuroscientist, Mayberg found a fact that cognitive-based therapy muted over-activity in the Prefrontal Cortex (Mayberg et al, 2002). That is to say, psychological changes in mind affected biological changes in the brain. Prefrontal Cortex was supposed to initially control our cognition. However, it can be concluded from these research that the mind and the brain are constantly interacting with each other. 
    Furthermore, Davidson (2012) points at the other character of depressed patients' brain. According to his study, the connectivity between the middle prefrontal gyrus and the neucleus accumbens dimished in dpressed patients. Strong connections between these two regions are necessary to sustain positive emotions, and disconnection of those is considered to cause vanishing of pleasure in short period in depressed patients (p.152).

 Based on a plenty of research like the ones shown above, mindfulness, as scientifically validated method, began to be incorporated into cognitive therapy in the Western world. This new style of therapy, so called, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), was named by Teasdale, one of the significant researchers in the study of cognitive therapy for depression (Teasdale, 2004). Nowadays, MBCT is acknowledged as the effective method of stress reducing and  depression treatment. Schwartz (2002), the author of the book “The Mind and The Brain,” describes this new trend as follows:

The will, it was becoming clear, has the power to change the brain—in OCD, in stroke, in Tourette’s, and now in depression—by activating adaptive circuitry. That a mental process alters circuits involved in these disorders offers dramatic examples of how the ways someone thinks about thoughts can effect plastic changes in the brain (p.250).

    Another neuropsychologist, named Rick Hanson (2009), also introduced in his book “Buddha’s Brain” the scientific evidence of biological changes caused by meditations (p. 85). For instance, he cites several research findings that exemplify biological changes in the brain as a result of meditation practice, namely: “Increases in size of gray matter in the insula (Hölzel et al, 2008), increases in the activation of the left frontal regions, which lifts mood” (Davidson, 2004), and so forth. In addition, Hanson (2009) lists some other biological changes enhanced by meditations, such as decreases in cortisol (stress hormone) level, and strengthening of the immune system (Tang et al, 2007).




Davidson, R. J. (January 01, 2004). Well-being and affective style: neural substrates and biobehavioural correlates. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 359, 1449, 1395-1411.

Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. (2012). The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live--and how you can change them. New York: Hudson Street Press.

Hölzel, B. K., Ott, U., Gard, T., Hempel, H., Weygandt, M., Morgen, K., & Vaitl, D. (January 01, 2008). Investigation of mindfulness meditation practitioners with voxel-based morphometry. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 3, 1, 55-61.

Hanson, R., & Mendius, R. (2009). Buddha's brain: the practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., McGarvey, M., ... Fischl, B. (January 01, 2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 17, 1893-7.

Mayberg, H. S., Silva, J. A., Brannan, S. K., Tekell, J. L., Mahurin, R. K., McGinnis, S., & Jerabek, P. A. (January 01, 2002). The functional neuroanatomy of the placebo effect. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 5, 728-37.

Maguire, E. A., Gadian, D. G., Johnsrude, I. S., Good, C. D., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R. S., & Frith, C. D. (January 01, 2000). Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97, 8, 4398-403.

Schwartz, J., & Begley, S. (2002). The mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of mental force. New York: Regan Books/HarperCollins Publ.

Teasdale, J. D. et al. (January 01, 2004). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: replication and exploration of differential relapse prevention effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 1, 31-40.

Tang, Yi-Yuan, Ma, Yinghua, Wang, Junhong, Fan, Yaxin, Feng, Shigang, Lu, Qilin, Yu, Qingbao, ... Posner, Michael I. (n.d.). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. National Academy of Sciences.

Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #6



   Every year for more than a decade, over 30,000 people commit suicide in Japan (The Mainichi Daily News, 2009). This means that approximately 26 per 100,000 people in Japan die from suicide. If the number of unascertained causes is included, such as missing or unknown causes of death, the number of allegedly suicidal cases is said to be doubled. This number is outrageous, compared to the suicide rate in the U.S. being around 11 per 100,000 (Chambers, 2010). There must be various reasons for such a high suicide rate, but among them, depression is well known as a major considerable factor. Furthermore, one of the precursors of depression is harsh self-criticism. Therefore, cultivating self-compassion is crucially important, especially to the Japanese in modern society since self-compassion helps reduce self-criticism.

 As Neff suggests in her research, self-compassion is defined as “kindness to oneself, seeing one’s experience as a part of the larger world, and balancing one’s awareness” (Neff, 2011). The mind training of self-compassion is also safe since enhancing self-compassion is different from inflating self-esteem or narcissism, which can create other problems such as prejudice. This is the significant difference between self-compassion and “self-esteem”; the latter inevitably involves comparison with others and can consequently lead to prejudice to whom they think are inferior. In contrast, self-compassion focuses on oneself rather than comparing and competing for something with other people.

To scientifically evaluate reliability and validity of Neff’s scale on self-compassion, Salkind’s book, “Exploring Research” provides various kinds of articulate concepts to examine measuring methods. The book shows each method’s strengths and weaknesses regarding various types of population. Accordingly, you can figure out for what purposes a researcher chose the method in his or her research.

For instance, in Neff’s research, random sampling is used (p228, Neff, 2003). The significance in her sampling process is, firstly she gathered data from a comparatively small group of sample in order to establish validity of the scale. This is called pilot test. In this process, two types of validity were examined, namely content validity and construct validity. The former was ensured by asking the participants open-ended questions. Then she picked up only those questions which were considered to be relevant to self-compassion level. Meanwhile, the construct validity was examined by comparing the pilot test results to a controlled group who was not told the purpose of the self-compassion test specifically. Subsequently, she tested the scale to a larger group of sample to evaluate subjects’ actual self-compassion level.

 This method can increase economy and efficiency of the process in making the scale while maintaining its generalizability and accuracy. On the other hand, stratified random sampling is not used in her studies regarding gender and ethnicity. Thus, the accuracy of generalizability may be slightly weak in terms of the gender differences and ethnic diversity, and can be studied later. Nonetheless, lacking stratified sampling in regard to gender and ethnicity does not ruin the validity of the scale because self-compassion may nomothetically concern people regardless of their social or cultural identities.

Concerning the reliability of Neff’s scale, she used test-retest technique in the second study. Two test results on the same participants across time and location were compared, and the correlation was calculated. The outcome figure was “overall .93.” Since this figure indicated that the scale is significantly reliable, it can be said that good reliability was obtained (p. 236, Neff, 2003).

 Meanwhile, the comparison was implemented to demonstrate construct validity of her scale. She compared the outcomes of self-compassion test to that of self-esteem. In addition, in Study 3 she collected the outcomes from a sample group of Buddhists and from that of largely non-Buddhists. Subsequently, Pearson’s correlational-coefficient was calculated to determine the effect of social desirability. Overall, validity of her study was proved to be sound.  

     To sum up, Neff supports the validity of the scale of self-compassion. In addition, practicing self-compassion is very useful in improving our mental health. Furthermore, the cultivation of self-compassion does not accompany manifestation of problematic personalities such as narcissism. Accordingly, self-compassion training provides a hint for better understanding of why Shakyamuni Buddha emphasized the importance of self-observation:Not the perversities of others, not their sins of commission or omission, but his own misdeeds and negligences should a sage take notice of” (Dhammapada Verse 50).

Related Video: Self Compassion Part 2 Kristin Neff self-kindness



Chambers, A. (August 3, 2010). "Japan: ending the culture of the 'honourable' suicide". London: The Guardian.

Neff, K.D.(2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self & Identity (2), 223--250.

Neff, K.D. (2011). Self-compassion, self-esteem & well being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass (5/1), 1--12.

Salkind, N. J. (2000).  Exploring research. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.

The Mainichi Daily News. (Dec. 26, 2009)"Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 12th straight year, may surpass 2008 numbers". Tokyo.

Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #5

Brain Research and Therapy for Depression


Nowadays, it is no longer uncommon for clinicians in America to incorporate meditations-- particularlly “mindfulness”-- into their psychotherapy. Beneath this new trend underlies the fact that the effect of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is regarded as a scientifically validated method which could help improve our mental health. In fact, more and more scientific evidence is found in terms of biological changes through meditations. Among the others, mindfulness meditation is effective for managing depression symptoms because mindfulness enhances a skill of non-judgemental self-observation, which consequently reduces self-criticism. Olivia Longe and the others’ research (2010) Having a word with yourself: Neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance” is one of the research on the brain mechanism of self-criticism. The remarkable point of Longe’s research is that they were able to specify exactly which parts of the brain are responsible for elicitting people’s negative responses, such as anger, contempt, or disgust, by using self-report tests and fMRI. Research suggests that these negative emotions can generate pathogenic self-criticism. Furthermore, self-criticism is associated with psychological disorders including social anxiety, inhibition, self-harm, and post traumatic disorder. Accordingly, self-criticism (and self-reassurance as a counter ability) are linked to onset of depression. Therefore, identifying the regions of the brain which are responsible for self-criticism and self-reassurance will be a stepping-stone for coping with depression.  

To conduct the experiment, the researchers recruited 17 right handed females from Aston University students and staff. The mean age was 24.71 years old and the standard deviation was 4.21 years. The major reason why they chose only female participants was to avoid any biases affected by sex. Likewise, only right-handed people were selected to eliminate any biases in terms of the differences between right and left brain activity. Therefore, this sampling style is considered to be stratified sampling. Furthermore, since these characteristics of the participants were pre-determined prior to the experiment, this is a quasi experiment. In terms of generalizability, they need more replicating researches since their small sample was not adequate to make general conclusion.

    Before scanning the brain, participants were asked to complete self-report surveys which evaluated their level of self-criticism and self-reassurance. For the next step, 120 statements were visually presented to participants as stimuli. If a participant regarded these statements as describing personal rejections, failures, or mistakes, the stimuli could elicit negative emotions. 60 of those statements depicted a negative scenario, for example, “A third job rejection letter in a row arrives in post.” In contrast, the rest 60 statements depicted neutral scenario, such as “The second free local newspaper in a row arrives in the post.” Then, participants were asked to imagine those situations as their own experience while the researchers simultaneously scanned their brain by fMRI. Finally, t-test was used to find the mean in the scores of self-criticism and self-reassurance scales. Likewise, the mean image of brain scanning was determined from four image pictures of each participant’s brain. 

 prefrontal cortex   
The research entailed the following three findings. Firstly, activation of dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and dorsal Anterior Cingulate (dAC), which are responsible for individual’s detecting errors, was observed in individual’s self-criticism, but not in self-reassurance. Hence, dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex dorsal anterior cingulate seem to be the part which generates negative moods such as inhibition. Secondly, in contrast, activation of left superior gyrus and insula was not observed when researchers asked participants to reduce focusing attention from their error or mistakes. Instead, they found that self-assurance corresponded to activation of left superior gyrus and insula, which are known as regions linked to expression of compassion or empathy. This is a fascinating finding because self compassion is also concidered to alleviate depression symptoms, which will be further discussed in the next journal #6. Thirdly, regarding the different functions of PFC, dorsal and ventral PFC divide an individual's tendencies to become either self-critic or self-reassured; dorsal PFC responsible for self-criticism, and ventral PFC responsible for self-reassurance. 
    Based on the results, the researchers concluded that there are positive correlations between individual’s tendencies to become self-critical and high activity in dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), and hippocampus & amygdala complex. On the other hand, tendencies to become self-reassuring were found to be corresponding to outstanding activity in left superior gyrus and insula, and ventral PFC.
dorsal/ventral PFC

Accordingly, rapid development of brain-research technologies, such as PET, fMRI, and EEG, have enabled scientists to discover which part of the brain is responsible for a certain mental activity. As the results have shown, these findings contribute to scientifical evaluation of meditation effects.    





Longe, O., Maratos, F. A., Gilbert, P., Evans, G., Volker, F., Rockliff, H., & Rippon, G. (January 15, 2010). Having a word with yourself: Neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage, 49, 2, 1849-1856.

Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #4

Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims

    The following is citation from my spiritual autobiography that I wrote in Psychology of Religion class in 2011. This is a record of how I recovered from the most emotinal incident in my life— my father’s death.


My father was victimized in a serious crime seven years ago.  Since it was a very special case, the local police did not investigate it.  Instead the police concluded his death to be suicide, but I still do not know precisely why and how my father died.  One day in 2004 I came home past midnight after work.  The lights in the living room and the stairs, which were usually off around this time, were on.  My father, who was supposed to be sleeping in the room, was not there.  I went to the bathroom and was freaked out. My brain stopped functioning and my legs started shaking. I could not move an inch for a while. In front of my eyes there was literal the sea of blood.  The blood became a clot and was stuck in the drain. It was like a small swimming pool made of human blood. On the bath tub cover, there was a disposal medical knife with blood. I was totally lost.  An hour later, two officers from the local police rang the doorbell of my house.  I opened the door. One of them said: “Are you the son of Koichiro-san?”  I answered: “Yes.”  He said: “Your father was delivered to a hospital by ambulance but he died there at 3:06 am.”  I could not understand what he was talking about immediately.  For the next whole week, I was strongly wishing that everything had been just a bad dream and I could eventually wake up from this nightmare…, but it was not a dream.  In fact, there was some evidence that he was involved in so called organized stalking/harassment crime.  Although I later tried to make the local police investigate this case, they were too frightened to do it.  Therefore, the main perpetrators have not been found yet and they are still free.

    I was also blackmailed when I tried to disclose this incident to the public through the Internet.  They threatened me to death several times but no one, including the police, offered me help.  People around admit that my father was a very kind and warm-hearted person and everyone liked him.  He did nothing wrong. Why did he have to suffer like that?  Why can the criminals be enjoying their free life now?  What is justice? What is the truth? What is the meaning of our life and death?  Nobody seemed to be able to answer my desperate questions.  As is often the case with people in such a serious crisis, I totally lost the purpose of life.
(Full Text: http://americanobotsuraku.blog132.fc2.com/blog-entry-62.html )

Nevertheless, I did not choose the worst decisions such as committing suicide, following a cult religion blindly, or something self-destructive. Instead, I desperately sought for the answer from a lot of books on psychology, Western and Eastern philosophy and religion, and whatever fields that appealed to me. Finally, I found the words of the Buddha in Dhammapada:

 “’These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,’ with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?” (Verse 62)

  Through the Buddha’s words, I was immediately able to understand that my suffering arose from attachment.  Despite of the fact that no one can change the past, I was tied with the past events which could not be undone. Finally, however, I realized that something that I am not able to control does not belong to me; thus the unbearable suffering I was going through was not supposed to belong to me, either.  This discovery of the cause of suffering helped me find a way to deal with my problem objectively.  In other words, only this way was I able to alleviate my heartache.

In fact, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) follows the similar steps to the process I underwent. In the research, “How Does Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Work?” Kuyken (2010) and the other researchers discovered that after practicing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, clients experienced less severity of depression symptoms. In fact, the patients still encountered relapse such as self-aversion and self-judgment in the first three sessions of mindfulness therapy. After the months of sessions, however, the clients became able to “detach” from their negative thoughts which used to generate destrucitve emotions. In other words, they learned to “consciously choose thoughts, emotions, and sensations rather than habitually react to them” (Kuyken, et al, 2010). Incidentally, I was unwarily practicing MBCT method without any therapeutic knowledge. Nowadays, Buddhist meditations--especially “mindfulness”--are introduced as scientifically validated methods which could help improve our mental health and well-being. It is a welcome trend that the benefits of mindfulness practice are widely spreading beyond religious and cultural differences.





Kuyken, Willem; Watkins, Ed; Holden, Emily; White, Kat; Taylor, Rod S.; Byford, Sarah; Evans, Alison; Radford, Sholto; Teasdale, John D.; Dalgleish, Tim. (2010)  How does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy work? Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol 48(11), Nov 2010.

Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #3

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Kisa-Gotami and the Mustard Seed

    In the Buddha’s lifetime, there was a woman whose name was Kisa-Gotami. She gave a birth to a child, but the baby died early. Suffering from unbearable sorrow, she went insane. She desperately asked around for medicine which could revive her dead baby. The Buddha suggested to her that the only medicine which could cure the death was “a little mustard seed from any house where no one has died.” Kisa-Gotami went into the town and sought for the medicine from house to house. At each house, however, someone had died. Seeing the other people’s similar sufferings from the death of a family member, Kisa-Gotami was able to look at her own sadness objectively. She finally overcame the panic (Schelling, et al, 1996). Likewise, the goal of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression is to enhance the ability to observe one’s own sufferings non-judgmentally. Through this method, a client can disengage from negative emotions, which would otherwise overwhelm the client and lead to a depressive mood. In Biological perspective, MBCT fortifies neuroplasticities which strengthen the function of connecting intellectual/analytical part and emotional part of the brain. In other words, the effect of MBCT is not limited to neurons’ changes either in intellectual/analytical part or emotional part of the brain. Therefore, MBCT is expected to work better, especially for depression, more than as a supliment to conventional therapies, which biological effect seems to be limited to a particular part of the brain.                   

 Behavioral Therapy

   Prior to MBCT, various styles of therapies were introduced. Among the others, Behavioral Therapy became influential in the U.S in 1950’s. The main characteristic of this therapy is the usage of reinforcement and/or punishment to correct a particular behavior. Behavioral methods are often applied to severely depressed patients, especially at the early stage of the symptoms because those patients need active interventions. On the other hand, a problem of Behavioral methods is that this method does not take a person’s complexity of thoughts into consideration. Hence, Behavioral therapy is not designed for dealing with patients who suffer from cognitive problems. Moreover, the effects of behavioral interventions may extinct without the presence of reinforcer and/or punisher.       
Pharmacological Therapy

    Pharmacological therapy uses drugs to induce a particular mood. These drugs are considered to intervene with the functions of the brain chemicals. Hence, this method also suits for patients at a severe symptom of depression. Nonetheless, there are several setbacks in drug therapy. First of all, medicines with strong effects tend to bring about strong side-effects at the same time. Therefore, a patient who takes strong anti-depressant medicines has to take other kinds of medicines to prevent the side-effects such as dizziness, weight-gain, or damages to the stomach and liver. For example, a friend of mine, who suffered from severe symptoms of depression, used to take 8 pills at each meal, thus 24 pills in total every day, and yet she complained that she gained too much weight and also she could not even walk straight because of the strong side-effects of many drugs. Another problem of Pharmacological therapy is that patients who used drug for depression have high rates of relapse/recurrence after medication was discontinued. Several research data indicate significantly higher relapse rates for depressed patients who received anti-depressant medication compared to the rates of those who had only cognitive therapy—the relapse rate of patients who underwent drug therapy is 50 – 78 % while the latter is 20 – 36 % (Segal, et al, 2002, p. 24).            

Conventional Cognitive Therapy

   As mentioned in the last of the previous paragraph, Cognitive therapy was introduced as a new trend which effectively works such as for depression symptoms caused by cognitive problems. Cognitive therapy is designed for “delineating the patient’s specific misconceptions and maladaptive assumptions” (Beck, 1979). In other words, the main purpose of Cognitive strategy is to recognize and correct fallacy of patients’ thoughts. Beck (1979) articulates the process of cognitive approach as follows:

(1) to monitor his negative, automatic  thoughts (cognitions)    

(2) to recognize the connections between cognition, affect, and behavior

(3) to examine the evidence for and against his distorted automatic thoughts

(4) to substitute more reality-oriented interpretations for these biased cognitions

(5) to learn to identify and alter the dysfunctional beliefs which predispose him to distort   his experiences of depression  ( p.4)

In accordance with these guidelines, patients are taught to acquire skills of monitoring and adjusting their maladaptive thoughts mainly through dialogues with a therapist. To exemplify the strategy to make a patient aware of the logical inconsistencies, Beck illustrates a dialogue between a therapist and a 25-year-old female patient who had recently made a suicide attempt and still wanted to commit suicide because her husband was unfaithful.

Therapist: Why do you want to end your life?

Patient: Without Raymond, I am nothing…I can’t be happy without Raymond…

T: What has your marriage life been like?

P: It has been miserable from the beginning…Raymond has always been unfaithful…I have hardly seen him in the five years.

T:  You say that you can't be happy without Raymond…Have you found yourself happy when you are with Raymond?

P: No, we fight all the time and I feel worse.

T: Then why do you feel that Raymond is essential for your living?

P: I guess it's because without Raymond I am nothing.

The conversation continued until the patient realized that she was losing nothing by breaking with Raymond and that there would be other opportunities for her to see a different man (p.217-8). Accordingly, this approach is also recognized as “Talk Therapy.”

       Although Cognitive therapy works comparatively well, such as for reducing the relapse rate of depression, there are a few weak points. First of all, this method takes long time for change; thus health insurance companies tend not to prefer choosing this option. Secondly, Talk therapy may not work for clients who are not good at logical thinking, reasoning, and/or analyzing. Besides, a client might not tell everything honestly to a therapist, or it may take extremely long time for a client to reveal wounds hidden deep inside the mind. Moreover, when sufferings that a client confronts are much harsher than a therapist has ever experienced, the pain that the client is going through may be beyond the therapist’s imagination. In other occasions, a client’s problem can be so unusual that a therapist will not be able to understand why the client is stressed out – for example, a case that a client’s suffering is caused by an extremely evil perpetrator, such as a person with anti-social personality disorder, who can manipulate surrounding people (Stout, 2005). Is not there any solution to these difficulties in helping clients get out of their unbearbale suffering – like the one which the Buddha prescribed to Kisa-Gotami?


Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness is a key concept of traditional Buddhist practices. Schwartz defines mindfulness in his book “The Mind and The Brain” as: “The capacity to observe one’s inner experience in fully aware and non-clinging way” (Schwartz, et al, 2002). In mindfulness training, patients repeatedly observe arising of negative thoughts and following negative emotions. Eventually the patients come to realize the patterns how they tend to react to their thoughts emotionally. For the next, by “steping back” from their own negative thoughts which used to generate bad moods, patients subsequently become able to avoid being drawn by the negative emotions. Consequently, they can focus on the task at hand. Kuyken, who researched the effect of MBCT, describes the clients’ mental process as follows: Patients learned to “consciously choose thoughts, emotions, and sensations rather than habitually react to them” (Kuyken, et al, 2010).
     Incidentally, it seems that Victor Frankl (1963), a Psychiatrist and victim of Nazi’s Holocaust, adopted MBCT method in a concentration camp.

     I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject. Suddenly I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room…I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp! All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the remote viewpoint of science…I observed them as if they were already of the past. Both I and my troubles became the object of an interesting psychoscientific study undertaken by myself…Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it (Frankl, 1963).

Using this unique trick, Frankl disengaged himself from his miserable emotions – most likely without awareness of the concept of mindfulness. Nevertheless, the technique that he practiced in face of the inconceivablly harsh adversity was exactly an application of Buddhist mindfulness. Besides, Frankl’s case illustrates that a client can be the teacher or therapist on his/her own in mindfulness practice.

Especially in the Western world, Buddhist meditations were considered to affect the mind, not the body. However, owing to the recent rapid development of brain-research technologies, such as fMRI, the fact was revealed that through neuroplasticity, mind and brain change each other interactively. In addition, the latest scientific study is trying to identify exactly which parts of brain are responsible while patients are overcoming depressive mood. For example, Olivia Longe (2010) and the other researchers found how different parts of brain are activated when people generate self-criticism and self-reassurance. Accordingly, the more scientific evidences were found regarding biological changes caused by meditation, the more Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for depression got acknowledged as a scientifically validated technique which could help improve our mental health.
Conclusion and Futuer Directions

    Regarding mindfulness and its future, I interviewed the Head of the Psychology Department of our university. To conclude this paper, I will introduce her comments, instead of my experienceless assumption, about clinical applications of mindfulness. She emphasizes that mindfulness is a very basic, holistic, core skill for encountering mental health problems because by mindfully observing our mind, we can recognize problems on our own. For example, some teenagers cannot regulate emotions and suffer from sever stress because they do not have a clue why they suffer. Meanwhile, Mindfulness training can provide those teenagers with a hint how suffering arises. In fact, several universities in the U.S. --including Harvard University-- have a program to study and teach mindfulness. For example, Montana State University opend a course titled “Mind/Body Medicine and Art of Self-Care” as a counseling psychology program. In this course, students practice Mindfulness-Based Stree Release Therapy (Cristopher et al., 2006). Moreover, the Head of the Psychology Department of our university suggests that mindfulness teaching should also get incorprated into the high school curriculum. Furthermore, according to her perspespective, Mindfulness-Based therapy will be elaborated so that this method can be applied more specifically in more various fields, not only for stress-releasing and depression but also for alcoholics, emotional regulations, and even personality disorders which are considered to be the most difficult cases to change. As Mindfulness training is integrated into clinical treatments, the traditional Buddhist practice will enhance well-beings of the people living in modern society.



Works Cited


Beck, Aaron T. Cognitive Therapy of Depression. New York: Guilford Press, 1979. Print.


Christopher, John, Suzanne Christopher, Tim Dunnagan, and Marc Schure. "Teaching Self-Care Through Mindfulness Practices: the Application of Yoga, Meditation, and Qigong to Counselor Training." Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 46.4 (2006): 494-509. Print.


Frankl, Viktor. Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 1962. Print.

Kuyken, W., Watkins, E., Holden, E., White, K., Taylor, R. S., Byford, S., Evans, A., ... Dalgleish, T. (November 01, 2010). How does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy work?. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, 11, 1105-1112.

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The Writer of 『拝啓 ギャングストーカー犯罪者の皆様』(Dear COINTELPRO Criminals) and <集団ストーカーの死> The Death of Gangstalker; also Co-Editor of 「新しいタイプの人権侵害・暴力」 Unprecedented Human Rights Violation

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