When I began studying mindfulness, what struck me most interesting was how regular practice in “paying attention” allowed one to be more efficient. When you’re in the present tense you’re hot on the task at hand. But a recent review of my books by Ellen Langer ,in particular her 1989 book “Mindfulness,” refreshed the scope of my understanding of mindfulness to include “flexible mind.” I think that there are those who want to embrace mindfulness, but their brains are in a place where they are incapable of such thoughtful engagement.

On the brain maps of some patients we can see regions of the cortex that are suppressed. Interviews with these patients reveal patterns of rumination, one track thinking and automatic responding to people and situations. When suppression is released, or when these regions begin to show greater variability, via relaxation therapy or neurofeedback for example, awareness increases, and there is greater cooperation and less resistance to new ideas. At this point the brain is more flexible and better able to benefit from mindfulness training.