Buddhism and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT)

“In the words of the Buddha, … ’We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.’ It’s an idea that’s in line with current thinking in psychology. In fact, this simple philosophy – that changing the way we think can change the way we feel – underpins the very practice of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), an approach widely used in clinical psychology and counseling, as well as stress management programs.” So writes Kathy Graham, in a thoughtful article on Buddhism and happiness, which can be found here.

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Meditation and mindfulness research

For several reasons, mindfulness and meditation have been the subject of more and more well executed scientific research over the past twenty years.  Much of this research has investigated the effect of meditation on mood and on the brain’s ability to regulate emotion. 

Other research has investigated the capacity for meditation to help people suffering from anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.  It may be that the study of meditation’s ability to make us happy has gotten more publicity than the study of meditation’s capacity to reduce anxiety.  However for people with diagnosable anxiety disorders, the potential to be gained from meditation is perhaps greater than it is for everyone else.  Meditation can “quiet the mind,” and pave the way for certain types of anxiety (e.g., worry, panic attacks) to improve.

New Meditation and Genetics Research: The Shamatha Project

Stress is unavoidable.  However, we handle stress is often within our control.  There are good ways and bad ways to handle stress, and meditation is considered a healthy stress reduction strategy.

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