Jul 18, 2014
On my son Narayan’s sixth birthday, I gave him an ant farm. He spent hours watching with fascination as the little creatures magically created their network of tunnels. He even named several, and followed their struggles and progress closely.
After a few weeks, he pointed out the ants’ graveyard, and watched with wonder as several of them dragged the bodies of their dead comrades and deposited them there. The following day, when I picked Narayan up after school, he was visibly distressed: on the playground, the kids had made a game out of stepping on ants. My son couldn’t understand why his classmates were hurting these friends he so admired.
I tried to …
Jul 18, 2014
What kinds of things do we get up to when we are meant to be meditating, but have become distracted? Most people will say they “think” or “fantasize,” but that’s not very specific. What kind of thinking is going on? What kinds of desires drive our fantasies?
There are five traditional hindrances to meditation. Speaking very non-technically, what we tend to do when we’re distracted is one of the following:
- Getting annoyed about things we dislike
- Fantasizing about things we like
- Worrying and fidgeting
- Snoozing and avoiding challenges
- Undermining ourselves with stories about what we can’t do
These are the five hindrances in very non-technical language. Each of them is a form of …
Jul 17, 2014
Andrew May, The Sydney Morning Herald: Over the past few months I’ve constantly been asked by companies we consult to about mindfulness and specifically, how leaders and entire organisations can harness the benefits. Mindfulness has become the plat du jour in corporate performance.
Nearly every one of the above conversations, where we talk at length about creating sharper attention and more creative thinking, a calmer approach to work and life, reduced levels of stress and anxiety plus increased levels of wellbeing, is followed up with something like “yeah, yeah, that all sounds great – but surely there must be a quick-fix?”.
There is, and …
Jul 16, 2014
Kate Lunau, Maclean’s: Aliza Naqvi, a 14-year-old student at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Toronto, carries a key chain strung with seven coloured beads. When she’s feeling stressed or anxious, she can pull it out as a reminder: The first bead, which is blue, stands for “breathe.” The second, red, cues her to reflect on her thoughts; yellow is to consider her emotions, and so on. “At any school, there’s a lot of stress involved,” Naqvi says. “The expectations are really high.” This small token, which fits in her pocket or handbag, reminds her to “take a mindful breath, and to be …
Jul 16, 2014
Last night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying “you are here.” A joke gift from my wife, I’ve worn this shirt many times – yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In William Blake’s phrase, the doors of perception popped open and it really hit me: yes we are actually here, off to the edge of a vast floating whirlpool of stars, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas. Here, now, nearly fourteen billion years …
Jul 15, 2014
Anna Maxted, The Telegraph: My mind often feels like a dusty cupboard, full of junk. I have so many thoughts in my head that my brain hurts. Work, social and familial obligations jostle for space. Modern life is fraught. How is it possible not to be stressed? If anyone has the answer, it’s Buddhist monk Bhante Kondanna, who, at 75, travels the world teaching its tenser inhabitants how to find inner peace. London is a frequent base, and on a recent visit I beg to be enlightened.
“Stress,” says Bhante, over tea at Kensington’s Mandarin Oriental, “is a new disease. When I was small, …
Jul 14, 2014
Jo Marchant, Mosaic: Is there real science in the spiritualism of meditation? Jo Marchant meets a Nobel Prize-winner who thinks so.
It’s seven in the morning on the beach in Santa Monica, California. The low sun glints off the waves and the clouds are still golden from the dawn. The view stretches out over thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean. In the distance, white villas of wealthy Los Angeles residents dot the Hollywood hills. Here by the shore, curlews and sandpipers cluster on the damp sand. A few metres back from the water’s edge, a handful of people sit cross-legged: members of a …
Jul 14, 2014
Ronald Alexander, Ph.D., Huffington Post: Mindfulness is an idea from Buddhism that’s central to meditation, but it’s also a way of life and a crucial tool in living each moment to its fullest. You establish a practice of meditation in order to develop the habit of mindfulness so that your awareness remains engaged when you leave the meditation cushion and go out into the world. Mindfulness allows you to act consciously instead of unconsciously. You are able to quickly and naturally become aware of what’s really going on in any situation instead of being distracted by your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Too often …
Jul 13, 2014
Deborah Becker, WBUR: As much of the country grapples with problems resulting from opioid addiction, some Massachusetts scientists say they’re getting a better understanding of the profound role the brain plays in addiction.
Their work is among a growing body of research showing that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.
Among the findings of some University of Massachusetts Medical School scientists is that addiction appears to permanently affect the connections between areas of the brain to almost “hard-wire” the brain to support the addiction.
They’re also exploring the neural roots …
Jul 11, 2014
Lee Carpenter, Penn State News: Grant from the Institute on Education Sciences focuses on teaching adolescents mindfulness practices.
Teaching adolescents mindfulness practices that may strengthen their attention, executive function and emotion regulation skills, and in turn improve their academic and social functioning is the focus of a new grant received by the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State. Mark Greenberg, Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research and professor of human development and psychology, is the principal investigator.
The three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Institute on Education Sciences will enable the integration of mindfulness practices and teachings into the regular …