Jul 08, 2014
The major brain regions that support emotional processing include the limbic system – particularly the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus – and the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), nucleus accumbens, and insula. Technical note: there are two hippocampi, one in each hemisphere of the brain; the same for the two amygdalae, ACCs, and insulae. Following common practice, we’ll mainly use the singular form.
By the way, as an interesting evolutionary detail, the limbic system seems to have evolved from the olfactory (scent) neural circuitry in the brain developed by our ancient mammal ancestors, living around 180 million years ago. They seem to have used their advanced sense …
Jul 07, 2014
Alvin Barnes, Wall Street OTC: If there’s one mental practice that’s stood the test of time and rigorous laboratory tests, it’s meditation. Mindfulness meditation in particular has done a good job of proving itself effective in reducing stress and depression, improving attention and cognitive performance, and even increasing grey matter density in the brain.
According to a new study in Psychoneuroendocrinology, just a little mindfulness training goes a long way, at least when it comes to quieting the mind in stressful situations. And for most people beginning a meditation practice, that’s not a bad place to start.
Mindfulness has been described by Jon …
Jul 03, 2014
HCOnline: We’ve all done it. In a fit of fury or just plain annoyance, we’ve hastily typed a snarky email to a colleague and hit ‘send’ – without first thinking of the repercussions.
It’s known as action addiction – often when things happen we want to fix it, immediately. There’s even a neurological incentive to do so – we get a hit of dopamine from feeling like we’ve taken quick, decisive action.
It’s human nature to act before thinking, right? It is, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. The concept of mindfulness is not new – in fact as a concept it …
Jul 03, 2014
Rohan Dixit is a former neuroscience researcher who studied meditation and the brain at Harvard and Stanford University. He also spent a year measuring the brainwaves of meditating monks in the Himayalas, which is nice work if you can get it.
Rohan has a fascinating project that he’s Kickstarting at the moment. It’s called the Lotus and it’s essentially a hand-made brass flower that blooms with your mind.
The Lotus responds to your brainwaves through a supported brain-sensing headset, which is hooked up to a smartphone app. When the headset detects that you’re calm and relaxed, the flower blooms and begins cycling through colors.
The Lotus gradually closes and slowly changes colors when it’s time …
Jul 02, 2014
Sara Bliss, Yahoo!: There’s a particular buzz around meditation right now, probably a direct result of more than half of working American adults being seriously concerned about their stress levels. Studies—and history—have shown that regular practice can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and keep depression and anxiety at bay. If you’re more concerned with the external effects of stress, how’s this: regular meditation might even make you look younger. Recent studies show that long-term practice changes your body on a cellular level that might actually slow down aging. Vedic Meditation instructor Charlie Knoles says, “People are spending a fortune on anti-wrinkle creams even …
Jul 01, 2014
Meditation means settling the mind, but if you try it you’ll quickly find that this is easier said than done. Our minds are often busy and like to keep thinking about the things that stimulate and interest them. So what are our allies in settling the mind?
Settling is a process. You can’t sit down after you have been rushing around and expect to be calm and quiet straight away. So, if it’s possible for you, take time to prepare for meditation. Make sure the place you are sitting is tidy and beautiful. Light a candle, perhaps. Then spend time carefully setting up your meditation posture. Notice how it feels …
Jul 01, 2014
It’s kind of amazing: right now, what you think and feel, enjoy and suffer, is changing your brain. The brain is the organ that learns, designed by evolution to be changed by our experiences: what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity.
Neurons that fire together, wire together. This means that each one of us has the power to use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better. To benefit oneself and other beings.
Using this internal power is more important than ever these days, when so many of us are pushed and prodded by external forces – the economy, media, politics, workplace policies, war on the other …
Jun 29, 2014
Patricia Pearce: Each morning I begin my day by reading a poem by Mary Oliver. Yesterday morning I read one, “Humpback,” from her book American Primitive that brought me to tears. Oliver has a unique gift of opening herself to Reality, the Reality so many of us spend our days asleep to, and of finding words to convey it such that its radiance can pierce our own minds.
It got me thinking about how the poet’s foremost job is to be awake to life and to notice things that most of us don’t. Only by being awake does the poet have anything to …
Jun 28, 2014
Tomas Rocha, The Atlantic: For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.
Set back on quiet College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, sits a dignified, four story, 19th-century house that belongs to Dr. Willoughby Britton. Inside, it is warm, spacious, and organized. The shelves are stocked with organic foods. A solid wood dining room table seats up to 12. Plants are ubiquitous. Comfortable pillows are never far from reach. The basement—with its own bed, living space, and private bathroom—often hosts a rotating cast of yogis and meditation teachers. Britton’s own living space and office are on the …
Jun 27, 2014
The News International: Mindfulness is fast emerging as the hottest meditative tool, which is known to contribute to our wellbeing and productivity.
Mindfulness is all about being focussed on the present moment, which has the power to liberate one from the shackles of past failures or pointless day dreaming about the future.
Given its global sweep and popularity, Time magazine featured mindfulness on its covers early this year as “the science of finding focus in a stressed out, multi-tasking culture”.
“The key to success in a fast paced world is a calm, resilient and non-judgmental inner being, steeped in mindfulness,” Santhosh Babu, a …