Perspectives on human brain mind and experience?
- Panel : Denys Rinpoché, Claire Petitmengin, Michel Bitbol, Elena Antonova, Arnaud Carré, Dominique Eraud, María Teresa Miró, Lorraine Gaultier.
Elena Antonova's intervention
Mindful attention and sensory information processing :
This talk will explore sensory information processing in experienced mindfulness practitioners as measured by startle habituation. Startle (measured using electromyography as the magnitude of an eye blink to a sudden loud noise) is a hired-wired reflex and is normally experienced as aversive. The magnitude of startle normally habituates very rapidly when startling stimuli are presented in quick succession. However, experienced meditators who practice intensely show attenuated startle habituation during open monitoring, as they maintain the openness and freshness of attention to each incoming stimuli, despite its aversive nature. Interestingly, the theories of sensory information processing conceive of reduced sensory filtering as being detrimental for the efficient information processing leading to cognitive fragmentation and breakdown of function as seen in schizophrenia. However, mindfulness training has been shown to be associated with more efficient cognitive processing, reduced psychopathology, as well as enhanced emotion regulation and overall well-being. I will present novel psychophysiological data on startle habituation in experienced lay meditators from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition practicing Dzogchen and explore possible mechanisms behind enhanced information processing capacity in the presence of reduced information filtering under mindful attention.
María Teresa Miró's intervention
Mindfulness in psychological treatment : special cases
The purpose of this presentation is to share some procedures and data on the use of mindfulness in special cases such as Alzheimer´s disease and psychosis. In the first case, the efficacy of a mindfulness based Alzheimer stimulation group was compared to cognitive stimulation, progressive relaxation and control groups in a double blind randomized clinical trial with 127 subjects, which lasted 2 years. Results indicated a lower decline of global cognitive function in the mindfulness group, and support the idea that mindfulness practice can be a viable and useful alternative within non-pharmacological treatments for Alzheimer´s disease. In the second case, a pilot study was conducted implementing mindfulness practices (awareness of the breath and of the body) in the treatment of 9 psychotic patients in a public mental health setting during 3 months. Results showed no worsening of symptoms during this period, a decrease of anxiety scores and an increase of interoceptive awareness, in particular referred to feeling the body as a secure place. Although preliminary, these data seem to indicate that mindfulness practices have great potential to be explored in the field of psychosis.
Lorraine Gaultier's intervention
Psychiatry, psychoanalysis and meditation :
The meeting, 20 years ago, of meditation, psychiatry in several institutions (for children, teenagers and adults) and psychoanalysis have enriched each other.
In psychiatry, pathologies often reflect an obsession with the past or an anxious anticipation of the future which are incapacitating. Meditation makes it possible to re-invest or appreciate living in the present, a source of joy and security, and a real antidepressant. The present may be re-gained, celebrated. Living one’s life, in harmony with the environment which then feels less hostile and more invigorating, able to open one’s heart to others, which is so valuable and so essential.
In psychoanalysis, meditation helps release the control of one’s thought and find again a sense of the present which enables round trips between the present and evocation of life course. Traumas are not recollected but emerge in a comforting presence. The place where one talks is substantiated enough, so as to enable to immerse within oneself and not forget to come back to the present and invest it.
With meditation, feelings, emotions, thoughts, psychological functions become clearer. They are welcomed with the singular listening of psychoanalysis which allows a liberty of being. Hearing these words, having these feelings, give them meaning and should not be rushed too quickly.
For the therapist, meditation helps him find again his breathing, his physical and psychological support points, a sense of light and joyful quality of being in the present, a return to himself, a secure place in himself.
This can avoid a « burn out » of caregivers who too often become damaged.
But also for the therapist, a relief from what he has undergone and a coming back to himself which enables him or her to welcome the next patient in a new and good condition.
This led me to choose a place and a style of exercices.
In a yurt, a poetic and ephemeral place.
The sessions sometimes take place while walking in a tempo I suggest, which the other one suggests or which happens as a surprise, not pre-determined.
The focus on oneself in relation with the environment, in the « garden waiting-room » brings one back to basics, and to a feeling of relaxation.
All this entails a surprise which sometimes leads to a possible psychological change and to a joyful feeling of lightness.
I would just like to refer to some of these Meetings.