I'm reading the "The Power of Now" book by Ekhart Tolle, in which he describes a spiritual practice by which attention/awareness is focused on the currently experienced mental state. For example, anger, frustration or jealousy are observed without letting them take over. Tolle describes the outcome of this practice as something along the lines of "these emotions are transmuted into awareness". I'm interested if there's any evidence in cognitive science to support his claim.
The description reminds me of mirror neurons - observing an emotion in others "infects" the observer with the same emotion. There's a small number of deeply connected mirror neurons that permeate the human brain
This makes me ask the question - are there "awareness" related mirror neurons or similar structures that get activated by one's own awareness? By which process could the experience of observing emotion increase awareness of the observer?
V.S. Ramachandran has speculated that mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness. In an essay written for the Edge Foundation in 2009 Ramachandran gave the following explanation of his theory: "... I also speculated that these neurons can not only help simulate other people's behavior but can be turned 'inward'—as it were—to create second-order representations or meta-representations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness.