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 …
Jul 10, 2014
Douglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun: You suspect a trend has peaked when someone attaches to it the prefix, “Mc.” And it sticks. And that’s what has happened to the psycho-spiritual popularity of mindfulness, which has been a buzz word in liberal North American circles and psychology for at least a decade.
As the columns below attest, it’s not that mindfulness is a bad thing. It’s really just one technique for practising contemplation and meditation — of paying attention. And that’s been around forever — and not only in Buddhism, as many North American practitioners of mindfulness so often assertively suggest.
Contemplation has been …
Jul 09, 2014
iAfrica.com: In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explored the pathway that leads to short-term insomnia disorder after stressful events.
According to the study, dangerous coping mechanisms that could lead to insomnia include disengaging without confronting the stressor, turning to drugs and alcohol, and using media as a means of distraction.
“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in …
Jul 09, 2014
We know that before Shakyamuni became a Buddha (waking up to the truth of reality) that he tried extreme self-discipline that included abstaining from all forms of indulgence, which was called the practice of asceticism. His self-mortification included eating just one grain of rice a day, and sometimes walking around with one arm in the air for weeks. In his search for an end to suffering, Gautama became like an addict to asceticism. Like today’s addicts, he had learned how to master pain, or so he thought. He grew as thin as a skeleton, and did not budge from his addiction. Still he did not find an end to suffering. …
Jul 08, 2014
Eden Kozlowski, Huffington Post: In conducting my meditation and mindfulness work, I meet many seemingly happy-go-lucky types who focus their attention on positive thinking. Chances are, many of you also aspire to this lifestyle. There are countless websites, Facebook pages and self-help diatribes dedicated to the upbeat idea.
However, this recent HuffPost blog on PT books states, “Positive thinking is at once the most widely embraced and the most frequently reviled philosophy in America.”
So, let me get straight to the point and continue with more of the reviling (actually, how about we clarify instead of revile). In my professional experience, I find …
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 …