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.
- Dual process models of cognition
- Executive Control
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MN is the standard abbreviation for the canonical Majjhima Nikāya (“Middle-length discourses”) text.
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Ostafin, B.D. (2015). Taming the Wild Elephant: Mindfulness and Its Role in Overcoming Automatic Mental Processes. In: Ostafin, B., Robinson, M., Meier, B. (eds) Handbook of Mindfulness and Self-Regulation. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2263-5_5
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