Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Most of the world's major religious and spiritual traditions incorporate elements of contemplative prayer or meditation, although the nature, prominence, and precise features of such practices vary between traditions. Neuroscientific findings indicate that meditation is associated with significant, enduring alterations in patterns of activity in specific brain areas (e.g., anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal areas). These, in turn, are linked with the increased attention and alterations in experience of self associated with contemplative practice. Neuroscientific findings are complemented by clinical evidence of relationships between contemplative practice and positive psychological change, leading, for example, to the use of “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” for depression (combining mindfulness-based techniques from Buddhist tradition with Western cognitive therapeutic approaches). There remains substantial potential for further research and ongoing dialog aimed at developing deeper, more integrated understandings of the spiritual, psychological, and biological effects of contemplative practice.

Keywords: meditation, spirituality, religion, Buddhism, Christianity, cross-cultural comparison, neurosciences, psychology, psychotherapy, mental disorders

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.