• 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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  • 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: Focus, Music, Longevity

    March 7, 2014 This holocaust survivor talks about the importance of living.  Yours in Mental Hygiene, The Ancient Brain and Modern Mindfulness

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  • Mindful Practice: A Neophyte Buddhist Shares His Story

    I’ve been practicing mindfulness in one form or another off and on for years (reflective humility can constitute mindfulness), but mostly inconsistently–and that’s the one thing that people who want “results” cannot afford to do: practice inconsistently. Nope, it’s only those who practice, practice, practice (consistently) who tend to get results and rewire themselves for their brans for mindfulness. Second, being “solo” and practicing mindfulness on your own can certainly work, but there is a strong argument to be made for self-improvement in a group. After all, we’re wired for the group–it was the only way our ancestors survived and

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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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  • 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: A Visual and Aural Feast

    January 15, 2014 First, I just wanted to say that I’m a visual person: I love graphics, I love pictures, I love movies. I see art, literally, everywhere! The Buddha you see to the right was a bronze statue at my good friend’s house (thanks, Carol!) and I had to mess around with it. (Click here to see the original.) A Visual and Aural Feast, Indeed. So when I saw some amazing pictures from a Russian photographer earlier today (below), I had to share them. They’re absolutely brilliant. I also love music, and because I think the two senses go so

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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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  • 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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  • Daily Grateful: The Zen Commandments

    December 31, 2013 Thanks to my friend Daniel Woo for these “Zen Commandments” of Lama Surya Das:

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  • A Thoughtful Argument for Mindfulness

    No Two Journeys are Alike, but We are all on the same Path When you stop and think about it, we have this moment, and then the next, and the next, but it’s inevitable that at some point, we will run out moments in this corporeal state. I remember reading Carlos Castaneda as a young man about the importance of living in the moment and the fact that death “is the only wise adviser that we have.” His was the argument for embracing all moments and that each day should be treated as one’s last, because it very well might

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  • Daily Grateful: I Am Malala

    December 24, 2013 About Malala. Many people know the story of Malala, but for those who do not, it goes like this: Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan on July 12, 1997 and lived in he Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This brave young girl wrote a blog advocating the rights of education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had banned girls from attending school. In  2009, when Yousafzai was just 11 years old, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC of her life under the Taliban and their attempts to take control of the

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  • Daily Grateful: December 12, 2013

    Thanks to my lovely mother for sharing this one with me… 🙂

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  • Mindful Re-Minders: A Personal Note

    The one underlying theme I’ve read and noticed across all people engaged in the practice of mindfulness is that it’s not a “state” that one arrives at. It’s an ongoing back and forth; the more modern parts of our brain are built for a good reason–think about what lies ahead and think about how to learn about the past. This is useful until…it’s not. Even the most experienced practitioners work hard to maintain thoughtful mindfulness and catch themselves being “hooked” (as Pema Chödrön might say) into old/unproductive patterns of behavior. Converting an Annoyed/Annoying Bad Mood… Yesterday I’d had a bit of

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