• Daily Grateful: Be Aware, Not Wary

    March 30, 2014 Taking in the good is….good for you. You’ve heard the phrases, “Give me a moment,” or “Let me take a moment.” Moments are all we have. They’re gifts; little parcels of space-time that enable us to live more fully. By enabling/permitting ourselves to dwell in the moments of life more deeply, we’re actually helping shape our brain to do positive things. In today’s post, Rick Hanson explains how that helps–from a technical point of view, while increasingly well-known Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh explains it as only he can. I love that modern science and ancient teachings have finally

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  • Part 1: What happens when you practice mindful meditation?

    “It is a tribute to the accumulated wisdom of humankind that a traditional Buddhist meditation practice going back 2500 years, which was originally designed in part to deal with the problem of human suffering, has been successfully adapted to prevent the relapse of depression in the modern era.” ~ Simon N. Young, PhD It’s a source of great debate  among many in the West (not among those who practice and are adherents of mindful meditation, of course; for them, there is no debate): just what are the benefits of mindfulness meditation? This is, really, the core question that can help change not

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  • Bypassing the Automatic Bypass: How Mindfulness Practice can Improve our Relationships

    It’s happened to everyone at some point or another. Someone says something that triggers your sense that you’re being: a) attacked b) disrespected c) ignored d) misunderstood e) blamed f) made to feel lesser than g) some or all of the above. What do we do? Well, it’s complicated, because everyone reacts differently, but in many people, the pre-frontal cortex (PFC)–that executive “Central Processing Unit” and keeper of higher functioning emotions and empathy–can be bypassed. This happens naturally enough during periods of extreme duress or surprise–when you react to avoid another car that suddenly appears in front of yours, or

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  • Daily Grateful: Don’t Just Do Something…

    February 26, 2014 No Zabuton or Zafu required, just a space, a chair or a pillow for your bum, and…you. You can use a guided meditation to focus on, or just be there, with your thoughts, allowing them to come and go, focusing only on your breathing, the ambient sounds around you, or bodily sensations. Sometimes amazing things happen, sometimes nothing happens, sometimes you feel pain or discomfort or have a hard time dealing with your torrent of thoughts. Any and all of these sensations are fine. All are equal and all can be perceived without fear, attachment, or judgment. Wiring

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  • What is mindfulness again, anyway?

    Of all the things I realized that I’ve never posted, mindfulness is, surprisingly, at the top of the list. Odd. Well, it’s odd for a blog that’s called The Ancient Brain and Modern Mindfulness. So, in an effort to address that void and provide some clarity on the subject from my point of view, I’ve included some brief descriptions and definitions from my brain to yours, below. Being in the Moment: Children are, Adults, not so much. The truth of the matter is that we are comprised of actions and behaviors that become largely ingrained in our brains as “habits.” As

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  • Daily Grateful: Swimming with Orcas

    January 31, 2014 This last day of the first month of the new year, thought I’d share something beautiful and a little scary (isn’t real beauty often a combination of the two?) 😉 What’s interesting–and relevant–about this video is that, for some, this would be the ultimate in “fight/flight/freeze.” Seeing one of the world’s top predators in the wild would make many people, well, less than comfortable. But, like this photographer (we posted about previously), this particular recorder of events was deliriously happy about his encounter with a pod of Orcas. It’s all about perspective. The Daily Grateful is one

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  • Daily Grateful: 100 cats. Big empty store. What’s not to like?

    January 28, 2014 The Daily Grateful is one way to “take in the good,” which is required to really rewire yourself. Helps to do this many times throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it just has to make you feel good. Take a moment to embrace the smiles that are available to you, and really dwell in those moments. Yours in Mental Hygiene, The Ancient Brain and Modern Mindfulness

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  • Mainstream Mindfulness: “Are we in the middle of a mindfulness revolution?”

    That’s the quote from this Huffington Post article about Time Magazine’s latest cover and theme. As an “armchair pop culturo-anthropologist,” I’m fairly certain that the answer is a definitive probably. 🙂 All the signs are there, really, from Time’s latest edition to a lesser known, but increasingly popular magazine called “Mindful;” from police departments helping their offers deal with stress to the Department of Defense looking seriously at mindfulness as a way to combat PTSD, the country is responding to information overload, stress, and anxiety with something that actually works: meditation and mindfulness. My sense is that because the latest research clearly

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  • The Work: Byron Katie’s Structured, Mindful Tools

    As the story goes, one day Byron Katie, who had spent a decade in the depths of depression awakened. She realized that she was trapped by her own thoughts, but that those thoughts weren’t actually “real.” Since then, she’s created a method for helping people take back control of their world by helping them figure out how to work with, not against, thoughts. To me, it’s another form of mindfulness, although that doesn’t seem to be described prominently in The Work, the overall process that she invented. As her site describes it: In 1986, at the bottom of a ten-year

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  • Mindfulness at Work: Free Webinar Series

    As the quote above tells us, Buddhism isn’t just for the practitioner and enlightened monks–it’s for real people simply living. As the Dalai Lama (along with other luminaries like Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and many others) have reminded us, the lessons of Buddhism (and mindfulness) are applicable in everyone’s real life, including at work. Mindful.org and the Huffington Post’s Third Metric have put together a Mindfulness at Work webinar series starting Monday, January 27. Janice Marturano, executive director of the institute and author of Finding The Space To Lead, will be on Huffington Post Live today at 1 p.m. E.S.T. to launch The

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  • Free Webinar Series with Leaders in Neuroscience and Brain Plasticity (Starting 1/22/2014!)

    UPDATE: Gold Membership is only $200! What’s great about the “new world” of neuroscience is that amazing discoveries are happening at a furious pace. As researchers continue to discover the incredible things that the brain can do–from building up resiliency to creating new neural pathways ourselves. With so much data and so many leaders in their fields, it’s hard to know where to turn. Too many options can easily lead to brain overload. The good news is that you can now check out, for free, a Webinar series that explains key findings and tools you can use to help improve your

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  • Daily Grateful: Sewing the Seeds of Love

    January 19, 2014 This quote reminds me of how compassion and giving makes the compassionate giver feel as least as good as the one on the receiving end. It also reminded me of the incredibly cool pop song by Tears for Fears–remember them? 😉 (below). Tears for Fears Sowing the Seeds of Love by Celtiemama Lyrics: High time we made a stand & shook up the views of the common man And the love train rides from coast to coast DJ’s the man we love the most Could you be, could you be squeaky clean And smash any hope of

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  • Why Do We Hate Ourselves So Much?

    I once had this pin, and put it up on a cubicle in my workplace back in the early ’90s. Not everyone thought it was funny or even understood the “joke,” but it seems appropriate today. Only in this case, I refer not to upper management, but to our own selves administering the beatings. Why is it that we beat ourselves up here in the West? Is it because so much is expected of us ? Is it because our culture is so focused on “winners” and “losers”? Enough already? I was reading a piece by Pema Chodron recently and

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  • The Case for Logging Off and Unplugging

    Internet compulsion is widespread, and frankly, it’s not surprising, considering that it’s now integral to cultures around the world. But recent studies indicate that it’s becoming an unhealthy obsession, and that ain’t good. I speak from experience on this (as do many readers, I’m sure). And actually, as I write this, I’m hoping I pay close attention and internalize it, because it’s easy to forget! o_O According to the findings of Cristina Quinones-Garcia of Northampton Business School and Professor Nada Korac-Kakabadse of Henley Business School people “may be using the internet in order to cope with the demands of excessive work,

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  • West Meets East: Neuroscience and Buddhism

    I was watching this video from the wonderful “Greater Good Science Center” Web site the other day, and just today I was reading an interview in Shambhala Sun with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield about mindfulness and Buddhism in the Western world. It’s not news that the world of Western science and the world of Eastern philosophy are coming closer and closer together, but what’s interesting to me is that the Buddha was apparently quite aware of the plasticity of the brain long before anyone actually knew the true functions of the brain. “Letting your frontal lobe support…non-judgmental, present moment

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