• 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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  • Dharma Punk: How One Angry Young Man’s “Rock Bottom” Journey Turned into a Mindfulness Movement

    For many (most?) people, the pain of existence requires some form of escape: for some, it’s food, for others, drugs or alcohol; for still others, it’s obsessive work or other obsessive behaviors and actions. But for all, these are attempts at escaping something that cannot be escaped–only accepted and “observed” as conditions of the world. For many, hitting “rock” bottom is the reason for changing, for attempting to improve themselves and trying something different. That was the case for me, and it was, as I found out, the case for a group of punks in California some years back. One

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  • Your Amazing Brain and What it can do

    Moken “See” People: Normally pupils dilate underwater to let in more light (but this causes everything to be blurry). The Moken’s brains have adapted to the sea by contracting their pupils–an ability that allows them to see cleary underwater. I remember when I was young, a popular saying was “People only use 10 to 15% of their brains.” Back then, I had no idea what that meant. My young mind thought “So, one day we might learn to levitate objects? Read other peoples’ minds? What’s in that other 85% to 90%?” I don’t know that these capabilities are in the

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  • Daily Grateful: December 10, 2013

    Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness Wonderful TED talk from french Buddhist monk. The work of the mind is important, he reminds us, but why do we spend so much time on so many other things? Mind training, he calls it (I like this train of thought!). Enjoy.

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  • Doing Good by Helping Youth Do Well

    When I used to live in Washington, DC, one of my favorite things to do was to drive up to Baltimore (“Balmer”) and get soft shell grabs and bad beer at a bar near the water. It was a great time, and I miss that simple pleasure. Such a different city from DC, and really a very interesting one. Baltimore has become known to millions the world over  for HBO’s “The Wire,” a series that delves deeply into the drug culture of Baltimore. But there’s a lot more to this town, and one organization is doing their best to prove

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  • Daily Grateful: December 2, 2013

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  • Guest Post: Lisa Wimberger – Mapping the Mindscape

    Well into this century, the prevailing scientific wisdom was that our brains were hardwired and fixed, and that we could not generate new brain cells. Fortunately, for the betterment of mankind, science changed its tune. It is now widely accepted, and empirically proven, that our brains are elastic and regenerative. Each of us has the ability to generate new brain cells through lifestyle and nutrition, a process called neurogenesis. The amazing revelations haven’t stopped there. Now we also know that we can rewire our neural mindscape through the same means, and do so at will! No longer are we destined to express

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  • Meditation can Literally Change your Brain…

    …including Decreasing the Size of your Amygdala! We are a data-driven society here in the West. Personally, I’d like to see more reliance on data to help break through the stigma and barriers that are associated with brain “plasticity” and rewiring our brains. The science is real, the conclusions are valid, and it’s just time for the rest of the medical (and patient) community to catch up. Key Conclusions. That’s why this video really struck me. People certainly have a right to be skeptical about “new findings” (coffee is good, it’s bad, it’s good, etc.!) regarding health, but the jury

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  • Relaxing Music: Sunday Calm

    Sometimes we just need background music that’s unobtrusive, what Brian Eno referred to as background, or “ambient” music. Check out our very calming radio station here:  ☯ R E L A X ☯ According to Johns Hopkins research, background music helps: · increase attention levels · improve retention and memory · extend focused learning time · expand thinking skills

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  • Daily Grateful: November 15, 2013

    Something I wrote a while back with some pictures I’ve taken of some of my favorite surroundings. Enjoy.

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  • How do you Get into the Mindfulness Zone?

    For some people, it’s yoga; for others, it’s running or lifting weights, or listening to music, or cleaning or just about any other pursuit that doesn’t involve worry and anxiety and “worldly” stress. For me? One way to get into the mindfulness zone comes from stacking rocks. If you follow mindfulness’ Jon Kabat-Zinn’s teachings, you know that the University of Massachusetts meditation luminary prescribes a variety of ways to “get into the zone” of mindfulness. And each person has their own special way to “get there.” Some people practice many different ways of being mindful; of being in the moment.

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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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