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Taming the Wild Elephant: Mindfulness and Its Role in Overcoming Automatic Mental Processes

  • Brian D. Ostafin
Chapter

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that automatic mental processes contribute to self-regulation failures such as eating high-fat foods despite being on a diet and getting trapped in old ways of thinking about problems that require a novel response. Mindfulness meditation, which was developed to overcome habitual patterns of the mind that contribute to human suffering, holds great promise as a strategy to improve self-regulation. This chapter examines the idea that mindfulness may facilitate self-regulation by influencing automatic processes and their relation with subsequent cognition and behavior. After beginning with a discussion of the functional value of automatic processes, the chapter continues with a review of how these processes contribute to self-regulation failure. Next, a theoretical discussion is presented concerning mindfulness and how it might moderate automatic processes. After presenting a review of research addressing this topic, the chapter concludes with suggestions for future work.

Keywords

Acceptance Addiction Automatic Craving Creativity Dual process models of cognition Executive Control Frames Habit Mindfulness Self-regulation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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