• Daily Grateful: Jon Kabat-Zinn Sums it Up

    3.23.2014 Jon Kabat-Zinn. For many, the name has become synonymous with modern mindfulness. As a physician who took a break from his work to study Buddhism in the ’70s, it was a decision that helped lead the beginning of the mindfulness movement in the United States. After training in Buddhism, he came back to his practice with the then-fairly radical idea that the benefits of Buddhist mindfulness could help his patients who were suffering from chronic illness. The result was the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts. Read more here. Watch his presentation at the 2014 Wisdom

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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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  • Yet More Evidence: Meditation Reduces Inflammatory Response

    It’s hard to keep up, sometimes–seems like mindfulness research data just keep piling up; a good “problem” to have, indeed. A recent study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France, indicates the first evidence of molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation, specifically, lowered cortisol. “The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels

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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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  • The Power of the Mind (and Words): The Placebo Effect

    Back in the 60s and 70s, stomach ulcers were a major problem among the most stressed out people. You don’t hear much about them anymore, but the truth is that ulcers were known to be caused–by and large–by individual stress and anxiety. Acid from stress would build up and cause the stomach lining to incur ulcers. The fact that people’s thoughts and feelings could cause physical ailments wasn’t the predominant approach to medicine back then. That view–that the brain and the body are separate when it comes to health–is changing rapidly. As I’ve described in earlier posts, we now know that those who meditate

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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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  • Love is a Drug (i.e., Oxytocin)

    Okay, well, it’s not actually a “drug,” per se, as much as it is a hormone, but as hormones go, it’s a pretty great one. Ever notice how incredibly great it feels to get your back scratched in just the right way? Of course you have–but you’re not alone. Lots of animals love the feeling they get when they’re scratched (from bonobos to owls), and that’s because we’re all releasing oxytocin. Oxytocin is known for “forging bonds” and new research indicates that oxytocin plays a crucial role not just in happy back and head rubs, and strengthened  social relations, but

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  • Health Benefits of Meditation

    Animals are very tuned to potential threats. Even this zoned out kitty, if it hears a noise in the back of the room, will point its ears back to pinpoint the sound (which is a deeply ingrained, “startle response” system that humans share with animals). But animals, unlike many humans, resolve threats very quickly–they don’t have the modern cortex that conceptually focuses on the threat (or imagined threats); they’re not capable of obsessing over why things happen and whether they’ll happen again. Their fight or flight responses works well and they’re always capable of fight or flight (or freezing) responses,

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  • Meditation Is Like “Finding a New Class of Drugs”

    A few months back, I chatted with my primary care physician–a no-nonsense, intelligent young doc–whether stress and extreme anxiety are increasingly causing more and more people to seek help at  the doctor’s office. He agreed that was the case, and that prescriptions for anti-depressants and a whole class of drugs were on the rise as a direct result. I suggested, in an offhand way, that he’ll soon be needing to recommend alternative ways for his patients to help themselves get healthier by exercising, meditating, yoga, etc., and here’s what he said: “I DO recommend these things to my patients who

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