Sep 10, 2014
Judson Brewer, Rehabs.com: Why do young mothers buy a daily pack of cigarettes instead of spending this money on nutritious food for their children? Why are treatments that help roughly 33 percent of people overcome their substance use and have a 70 percent relapse rate hailed as “gold standard” by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)? In other words, why are addictions so hard to overcome?
Our brains are set up to learn. From an evolutionary perspective, when we come upon a good source of food or water, it is helpful to remember where it is. When we discover something dangerous, that memory is …
Sep 10, 2014
Derek Beries, Big Think: In his 1961 book, Psychotherapy East & West, the philosopher Alan Watts wrote,
If there is to be a battle, there must be a field of battle; when the contestants really notice this they will have a war dance instead of a war.
As is popular in South Asian poetry, such imagery aptly describes a social as much as a psychological state. For example, the slim volume of karma yoga lessons, the Bhagavad Gita, treats the metaphorical field of battle as both a reflection of Indian society and an introspective mirror held up to one’s brain.
Humanity’s battle against its …
Sep 09, 2014
Michael Taft, The Huffington Post: When I first started meditating, one of the hardest things was trying to stay focused. There were just so many things to do, people to interact with, noises like music or blaring car horns that shattered and upset my nascent meditative vibe. I felt like I was drowning. How could I focus in a sea of constant distraction?
The funny thing is that, more than 30 years later, the distractions are still the same. Sirens wail, the bladder complains, people demand my attention, life is moving along in just the same intense, chaotic, confusing manner. If anything, decades of …
Sep 09, 2014
Harshaprabha is making the second of his twice yearly visits to Ontario. The events, in Guelph and Goderich, are suitable for those with an understanding of, or even just a curiosity about, Buddhism.
Harshaprabha’s dream is to see the Triratna Buddhist Community established in the Province.
To realize this dream he makes bi-annual trips and leads events for newcomers and others. These give people an opportunity to experience being with other like-minded people in meditation and in discussing Buddhism as interpreted by the founder Urgyen Sangharakshita and his disciples.
In between his visits Harshaprabha keeps up his connections via e-mail, Skype, telephone, and Facebook. His dream …
Sep 08, 2014
Gary Gutting, New York Times: Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and prominent “new atheist,” who along with others like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens helped put criticism of religion at the forefront of public debate in recent years. In two previous books, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” Harris argued that theistic religion has no place in a world of science. In his latest book, “Waking Up,” his thought takes a new direction. While still rejecting theism, Harris nonetheless makes a case for the value of “spirituality,” which he bases on his experiences in meditation. I interviewed …
Sep 05, 2014
Sabrina Eaton, Cleveland.com: Niles Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan — who has become a congressional evangelist for a meditation technique known as “mindfulness” and even authored a book on the subject — announced today that universities in Northeast Ohio and Philadelphia will get $3.6 million from the National Institutes of Health to study his pet topic.
Kent State University researchers David Fresco and Joel Hughes and the University of Pennsylvania’s Jeffrey Greeson will use the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute award to examine whether lifestyle modification like meditation can keep hypertension patients off medication.
The study called “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for High Blood Pressure” will recruit …
Sep 04, 2014
Stephany Tlalka, Mindful.org: Happiness is hot right now. You can’t visit major blogs like The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen without running into tips and tricks for harnessing well-being.
That’s uplifting, says Emma Seppala, associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. But she says these blogs are missing one key ingredient. Facts.
“A lot of those articles are intuitively true, but because of my science background, I always look at an article like that and think, ground this in some data!” says Seppala, laughing. “I can’t take it as seriously.”
Seppala has engaged her science background …
Sep 03, 2014
Brian Parr, Ph.D., Aiken Standard: Mindfulness can be described as an awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. This is most commonly explored through mindful meditation, a practice that is credited with improving physical and mental health.
Beyond meditation, being mindful can help to improve attention and focus in nearly every aspect of life.
Thinking about your actions and the effect they have on your health and the health of others can be good for you and those around you.
It turns out that we engage in many health behaviors that are driven more by habit than conscious decision-making. This …
Sep 02, 2014
Jhāna — a progressive series of meditative states of absorption — is a controversial topic in Buddhism. This should be rather amazing given that the Buddhist scriptures emphasize jhāna so strongly. In the Eightfold Path, Right Concentration is consistently defined as the four jhānas. The Buddha said things like “There is no jhāna for him who lacks insight, and no insight for him who lacks jhāna.” The jhānas are enumerated over and over again in the Pāli scriptures. They’re also implicit in teachings like the Seven Bojjhaṅgas, the 12 positive nidānas, and the Ānāpānasati Sutta, which mention various of the jhāna factors.
Despite the scriptural importance of jhāna, some teachers, like …
Sep 02, 2014
In light of the machinery of survival-based, emotional reactivity, let’s look more narrowly at what Daniel Goleman has called “emotional hijacking.”
The emotional circuits of your brain – which are relatively primitive from an evolutionary standpoint, originally developed when dinosaurs ruled the earth – exert great influence over the more modern layers of the brain in the cerebral cortex. They do this in large part by continually “packaging” incoming sensory information in two hugely influential ways:
- Labeling it with a subjective feeling tone: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This is primarily accomplished by the amygdala, in close concert with the hippocampus; this circuit is probably the specific structure of the brain responsible