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There are a number of spiritual practices that practice self-awareness and continuous awareness of one's thoughts and actions (for example the teachings of Ekhart Tolle):

Tolle writes that "the most significant thing that can happen to a human being [is] the separation process of thinking and awareness" and that awareness is "the space in which thoughts exist".

There are also a number of techniques employed by people who practice lucid dreaming - namely reality checks and being aware of one's thoughts and surroundings. Lucid dreamers expect that this kind of awareness would carry over into the dream experience and help achieve lucid dreaming.

Both have a common goal - to create some kind of a meta-awareness, or a watchdog awareness, similar to a background process on a computer. A watchdog task on a computer can wake the computer up if some other process has hanged, or some other task is taking up too much resources.

My question is - Does modern science (2015) have evidence to support that human brain is capable of running the "background process" kind of meta awareness of one's thoughts and actions for extended period of time"?

My question about ordinary daily activities - can this kind of background awareness process be running all the time, regardless of activity performed?

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  • $\begingroup$ What would be an example of a hypothetical study that counted as evidence for this kind of process? $\endgroup$ – Josh de Leeuw Jun 29 '15 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ While I cant remember names off the top of my head, I'm aware of studies of meditating subjects that showed changes in brainwave patterns. fMRI studies are also pretty good at detecting different brain activity. I'm aware of fMRI studies of subjects "in love" versus controls that showed activations of different brain regions. Are there studies of "continuously aware" people? $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Jun 29 '15 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ Mindfulness was looking like it was doing well in the noughts, but since the replication crisis started, the construct has been taking a real beating, IIRC. Should've asked in 2010. :) $\endgroup$ – Christian Hummeluhr Jun 30 '15 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ There's always incubation, which I think is safe? Who knows lately, though. I barely trust anything published before 2010 anymore, and I don't particularly trust the rest, either. $\endgroup$ – Christian Hummeluhr Jun 30 '15 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ The Default Processing Network appears to help us maintain a sense of self in relation to what is going on around us. It "runs" when we blink, so if you see someone not blinking for a while (like when driving a car or doing other focused and quiet activities) then they might have a lower sense of self than usual. This is connected with the Alpha State also. In this state, paradoxically, one can feel far more aware of self than usual, because the DPN mainly supports ego-awareness, and spiritual awareness is different. $\endgroup$ – user9634 May 26 '16 at 2:16

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