• Spotlight on Jon Kabat-Zinn: Ancient Practices, Modern Mindfulness

    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. Although I haven’t participated in an any of his

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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 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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  • Daily Grateful: Exercise and the Brain

    January 7, 2014 Not new news, but always a good, gentle reminder that exercise does the most amazing things for your body and your brain. According to Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance. In SPARK, John Ratey, MD embarks upon a fascinating journey through the mind-body connection, illustrating

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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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  • Sensational Maps: Mind / Body Emotional Experiences

      Source: npr.org According to research conducted by Lauri Nummenmaa, a psychologist at Aalto University, “Our emotional system in the brain sends signals to the body so we can deal with our situation.” Nemmenmaa led a team of scientists in Finland to ask ask people to map out where they felt different emotions on their bodies. The results, as shown above, were “surprisingly consistent,” even across cultures. “Say you see a snake and you feel fear,” Nummenmaa says. “Your nervous system increases oxygen to your muscles and raises your heart rate so you can deal with the threat. It’s an

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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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  • The Importance of Focus

    The other day I posted a discussion (Stay Mindful! Wandering Minds Tend to Lead to Greater Unhappiness) about the importance of focus by explaining the negative impact of “wandering minds.” As a natural follow up to this discussion, it makes sense to address Daniel Goleman’s work (which can be found in his new book, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence,) which explains the importance of staying focused. Goleman,  is a highly regarded psychologist and writer who concludes that focus is key to a complete, happy life, and that the alternative is leading us as a society (and kids, in particular)

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  • Daily Grateful: November 17, 2013

    Stay Mindful! (Wandering Minds Tend to Lead to Greater Unhappiness) Harvard scientist Matt Killingsworth built an app to track peoples’ focus and mind wandering tendencies and tracked 15,000 users’ responses across many demographics. The data are nothing short of amazing. As it turns out, people are less happy not only when their minds wander, but actually because their minds wander, relative to when when they’re mindful or “focused, aware and in the moment”–regardless of whatever daily activity they’re doing (held up in traffic, shopping, etc.). Matt explains how he got the data and what the correlations mean, but this fits well with

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