Towards a wide-spectrum model of the mind
The objective of the Mind-Brain and Mindfulness Meditation Research Team at the Faculty of Science and the University Medical Center, Radboud University (Nijmegen, The Netherlands), is to contribute to the development of models of the mind that originate from the bridging of the scientific knowledge and research with the phenomenological and psychological knowledge derived from the contemplative traditions. The multi-faced aspects of insight meditation and its effects on the mind are studied through the integration of different disciplines and expertises: first-person phenomenological experience, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology and psychiatry, neurobiology.
Because of the increasing popularity of the applications of mindfulness-based approaches in clinical and educational settings, particular interest is devoted to the research on mindfulness: both on its neurocognitive and neurophysiological correlates and on its clinical application (MBSR/MBCT).
The final aim is that of a scientifically validated model of the mind that is able to incorporate the full-spectrum of potentialities and defects present in humans.
The models in their present form are inspired by first person experience with insight/mindfulness meditation (vipassana), supported by knowledge of neuroscience, cognitive and clinical psychology and Buddhist psychology (Abhidhamma & Abhidharma). The the research of our team is aimed to develop the models and to find experimental support for them.
The quest is to find a final model that is wide-spectrum in following ways.
1. (Phenomenology) The model ranges from the following full spectrum of human first person experiences.
mystical mental states (beyond desire/aversion; 'sublime');
high concentration mental states (needed e.g. for creativity, for sports);
daily life mental states (desire/aversion, emotions);
pathological mental states (anxiety and depressive disorders, psychosis);
existential crisis ('nausea' [cf. Sartre]; 'three characteristics of existence' [cf. Buddhist traditions]).
2. (Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry) The model aims at a better understanding of 'suffering' states, both in psychological and Buddhist terminology, and to open new views about
psychotherapy (towards using inner resources to cope with life and developing quality of life);
purification of consciousness (becoming more aware and less prone to conditioning).
3. (Cognitive Neuroscience and Neurobiology) The model aims to cover a scientific third person description at several levels:
molecule, cell, brain and behaviour.