Prof. Tara Well’s Research Offers Pathways to Clarity and Calm

health & wellnesspsychology Prof. Tara Well studies meditation, emotional regulation, and nonverbal communication, and her current research focus—and forthcoming book The Clear Mirror: The Healing Power of Self-Reflection—addresses the effect of mirrors on stress and self-image. She has pioneered the “Mirror Meditation” technique, a practice reminiscent of Buddhist mindfulness that involves gazing intently into a mirror for 10 minutes to better attune the subject to their emotions and bodily sensations. Far-removed from an exercise in narcissism, Well found that daily practice has many benefits, including increases in self-awareness and self-love, and teaches the technique in workshops at Barnard College and at the Rubin Museum in New York City.

Well’s expertise has also been of great use during a tumultuous political season. Not long after the inauguration, she spoke to Bloomberg News about “emotional contagion,” a phenomenon that psychologists define as the spread of a heightened emotional state from one person to another, and the role of social media in amplifying the contagion. In a second Bloomberg interview, she suggested reducing the amount of time we spend on Facebook or Twitter to reduce anxiety and the risk of emotional contagion, and instead strengthening individual relationships and carving out time for self-care. Well also writes a column for Psychology Today; The Clarity looks at topics ranging from dealing with betrayal or difficult social situations to the neuroscientific research behind compassion and empathy.

Well’s next Mirror Meditation session, centering on the theme “Compassion by Reflection,” will take place at the Rubin Museum on April 29. More information about the event is available on the Rubin Museum’s website.

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