Monday, March 18, 2013


We've all heard of the Ancient Greek aphorism 'Know thyself.' In mindfulness (also known as ‘insight meditation’), the important task of gaining knowledge---or insight---into ourselves takes on a whole new dimension.

A press release from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) on 14 March 2013 confirms that mindfulness can help individuals be more aware of their ‘self-knowledge.’ Erika Carlson (pictured left), a psychological scientist from Washington University in St Louis, has found mindfulness, when used in a non-judgmental way, can reduce barriers that prevent individuals from understanding themselves.

Mindfulness---paying attention to one’s current experience in a non-judgmental way---might help us to learn more about our own personalities, according to this new article published in the March 2013 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the APS.

According to the latest research, two important components of mindfulness---namely, attention and nonjudgmental observation (also known as choiceless awareness)---can overcome the major barriers to knowing ourselves. Carlson argues that the motivation to see ourselves in a desirable way is one of the main obstacles to self-knowledge. For instance, people may overestimate their virtuous qualities to ward off negative feelings or boost self-esteem. However, non-judgmental observation of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, might reduce emotional reactivity---such as feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem---that typically interferes with people seeing the truth about themselves.

Resource: Carlson, E N. ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Self-Knowledge: Mindfulness as a Path to Seeing Yourself as You Really Are’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, March 2013, vol. 8 no. 2 173-186, doi: 10.1177/1745691612462584.

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