by Hans TenDam, MA, CRT
The author discusses the research into the neurological correlates of meditation practices. There seem to be two general types of meditation, each with its own neurological signature. These are compared to regression therapy, which is hypothesized to be a third type.
During meditation brain activity changes: in frequency, in location, in coherence. Meditation practices of the concentration-type eliminate all mental content, emptying the mind of everything besides the concentrating mind itself. Meditation practices of the mindfulness-type stay with the actual moment and all that entails, inside and outside. These practices focus on or contemplate what is present, while being as calm and complete as possible.
Regression seems a third road, though the results may be comparable. Meditation is attentiveness training. In regression we don’t train attentiveness; we induce a natural flow of awareness from experiencing a problem, discovering its source, and flowing towards its solution. Regression seems more comparable to absorption of the attention experienced in reading or hearing stories, listening to music, or after hypnotic inductions.
Meditation can be therapeutic, especially for depression. The meditator learns to see negative thoughts as observable mental contents rather than the self. This is also true for regression, though we rarely consider it in this way. Only when a regression leads to catharsis does the similarity with meditation become striking. A deep catharsis approaches the mystical qualities of deep meditative states.
Further neurological research won’t improve that process, though we may discover what neurological conditions may hinder or limit regression experiences and their therapeutic results.