Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2010
Authors  Travis, Frederick; Shear, Jonathan
Journal Title  Consciousness and Cognition
Volume  In Press
Abstract  This paper proposes a third meditation-category—automatic self-transcending— to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automatic selftranscending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with focused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring, which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open monitoring, characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automatic self-transcending, characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects.
DOI  10.1016/j.concog.2010.01.007