Body awareness

Like emotional awareness, the body awareness component of mindfulness (Holzel et al. 2011) is also theoretically congruent with the concept of bottom- up processing (Chiesa et al. 2013). Indeed, the emotional and body awareness components can be conceptualized as closely overlapping, based on the theory that emotions are bodily-based signals that drive decision making (Damasio 1996). Body awareness and emotional awareness in these terms would overlap closely based on the theory of emotions as encoding bodily action tendencies. The role of mislabeled body states in some clinical disorders (Critchley et al. 2013) and the role of mindfulness in increasing interoceptive accuracy (Farb et al. 2013) provide a framework for conceptualizing the clinical utility of the body awareness component of mindfulness. Neuroimaging evidence supports a view that regular meditation is associated with functional changes in interoceptive processes. For example, meditation has been associated with functional changes in interoceptive and homeostatic processes, including enhanced prefrontal cognitive reappraisal of pain unpleasantness marked by increased anterior cingulate cortex activity and dorsal anterior insula (Lutz et al. 2013), reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex and thalamus (Orme- Johnson et al. 2006), and by structural changes including prefrontal cortical thickening (Kang et al. 2013), increased white matter fractional anisotropy (Tang et al. 2012), and higher gray matter density in the supplementary motor area, ventral palladium, and brain stem (Kumar et al. 2014). It should be noted, however, that both top-down and bottom-up conceptualizations of mindfulness treatment mechanisms have been proposed as salient in the clinical efficacy of mindfulness for disorders characterized by problems with body awareness (Lutz et al. 2013; Zeidan et al. 2012).

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