Britta Hölzel

Dr. Britta Hölzel speaks with us about her recent paper about the potential mechanisms of mindfulness.

What are the mechanisms of a mindfulness state? A recent paper suggests, as a starting point of discussion, that four significant components may be Attention Regulation, Body Awareness, Emotion Regulation, and Sense of Self. As we look at the positive benefits of meditation, it is valuable for us to hypothesize about these qualities of the process, as that can help us think creatively about new areas for scientific investigation.

Britta Hölzel, PhD, is a Research Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Giessen in Germany. She received her MA in Psychology from Frankfurt University, and her PhD from Giessen University. She conducts MRI research to investigate the neural mechanisms of mindfulness practice. Her research focuses on the effects of mindfulness practice on attention and emotion regulation as well as on structural changes in the brain. She is a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction instructor, a certified yoga teacher, and has been a dedicated yoga and meditation practitioner for the last 12 years. Recently, she has been involved in projects to adapt mindfulness-based interventions for patients with bipolar disorder.

At the end of this interview, Britta references a brand new study of a colleague, Tim Gard. I’m happy to say that Tim’s work has just been published, and our interview with him about that will be next week’s episode. And on a personal note, I would like to thank our friends in the scientific community for their spirit of collaboration. It is solely due to their open communication and interest that this podcast is able to share their fascinating work in as timely a fashion as we’ve enjoyed. So, Britta, Tim, Katherine, Sara, Cathy, Cliff, Fadel, Philippe, and happily everyone else too numerous to mention by name — thank you for sharing.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Chocolate Safari tea.

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Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations


The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:
  • Chaniwa

~ Ted Meissner is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, and host of the SBA’s official podcast, The Secular Buddhist. His background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is a guest editor at The Buddhist Dispatch.