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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
REVIEW | MICHAEL SHEEHY 113 not only about how forces such as culture, environment, and worldview affect the sci- ence of meditation, but also, just as impor- tantly, how these studies are interpreted by the scientific community and reported to the public. In the 1970s, the science of meditation was dominated by studies on the physiolo- gical effects of meditation. Alongside the rise of cognitive psychology that same decade, and with increased interest by therapists in the 1980s, research on medi- tation has since taken a strong cognitive orientation. The regulation of attention and emotion accessible through Buddhist contemplative techniques has dovetailed with the methods of cognitive therapy. In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn started to incor- porate mindfulness into a therapeutic program, which he called Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Erik Braun, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and one of this book’s editors, examines the cultural adaptation of mindfulness in his essay, “Mindful but Not Religious.” Braun makes the point that Kabat-Zinn inten- tionally uses scientific and secular language to describe mindfulness while retaining some Buddhist elements, arguing that what makes Kabat-Zinn’s approach distinctive is his naturalized use of language to describe mindfulness, particularly the mindfulness of pain, which creates a sense of enchant- ment that is both Buddhist and secular, sacred and scientific. This enchantment, though not explicity Buddhist, enables mindfulness to resonate with spiritual impulses in American culture. By 1991, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale as an intervention to help patients recover from depression. In her essay, “Mind the Gap,” anthropologist Joanna Cook from University College London reflects on observations from her fieldwork at a two- year MBCT therapist-training program in the United Kingdom. She is particularly interested in how therapists and practi- tioners frame mindfulness in relation to science. Based on her discussions with therapists, Cook makes the case that their personal experience of mindfulness practice was placed on par with the evidence of ran- domized controlled trials, equating quan- titative scientific studies with anecdotal accounts. This repeatedly led to the inter- pretation that meditation and the scientific method are complementary protocols that produce parallel forms of evidence. She suggests that therapists and practitioners frame mindfulness as a method for distin- guishing “reality” from “appearance,” not unlike science. She further contends that in developing a decentered perspective—expe- riencing thoughts as not real, a hallmark practice of MBCT—such categories actu- ally create a new reality rather than reveal- ing what is already present. In so doing, Cook hints at how popular conceptions of science inform understandings of medi- tation as well as how meditation is being subsumed within modern scientific culture. Using the idea of “looping effects,” Evan Thompson, professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia, discusses how science has created types of medita- tion that did not exist before. In his article, “Looping Effects and the Cognitive Science of Mindfulness Meditation,” Thompson suggests that popular understandings of mindfulness, which have come to define the modern mindfulness movement, emerged from a loop. First comes the thought that mindfulness is within one’s private mind. Then mindfulness is projected onto the brain; this results in thinking that mind- fulness is in the head. Consequently, prac- titioners develop simultaneous beliefs both