Meditation and Mindfulness Glossary

Welcome to our informal glossary defining some of the terms used in the research featured on this website. If you can suggest any changes or improvements we’d welcome your thoughts.

Buddhism – Buddhism is a term used to describe the many different religious and philosophical schools that broadly follow the teachings of the historical Buddha.

Buddhist – A Buddhist is a practitioner of Buddhism or something relating to or derived from Buddhism ‘a Buddhist meditation’.

Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT) – Practices designed to systematically generate compassion.

Cognitive Processes – The mental processes that allow that allows us to engage with the world through sensory input.

Compassion – A term for a wide range of similar or related emotional traits and states. Competing definitions exist linked to different personal approached and social norms. One enduring definition is ‘the wish that all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering’.

Compassion Meditation (CM) – Compassion or compassionate meditations is a generic title for any spiritual or secular practice the seeks to meditate levels of compassion in some way.

Default mode network (DMN) -Perhaps the most important area of meditation research, the DMN is a large scale but anatomically diffuse brain network, most active during, introspection, planning and processing autobiographical memory.

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) – Loving-kindness meditation is a traditional Buddhist meditation practice, modern secular versions do exist. Although LKM is often linked with compassion meditation, traditional definitions describe loving-kindness as ‘the wish that beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) – It is presumed that human cognitive function declines from the age of about 30 onward. If this decline reaches a particular threshold it may be diagnosed as MCI. MCI can be seen as a movement towards dementia, but this definitely need not be the case. Evidence does show that brain function and structure can be increased in older adults.

Mindful Attention Training (MAT) – A mindfulness practice used to increase attention.

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) – A blanket term for a family of mindfulness interventions, typically therapeutic forms rooted in the original MBSR framework. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – One of the first contemporary mindfulness practices, developed in the late 1970s with the intention to reduce stress.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) – An anxiety disorder that is caused by exposure to traumatic events.  A condition which is treated.

Prosocial behaviour – A term used to described actions intended to bring benefit to others, such as sharing resources, volunteering, contributing to good causes. Although there is a general understanding of what is termed prosocial. There are many grey areas that make the scientific use of the term problematic. For example the use of philanthropy to maximise tax liabilities or self-promotion.