Amanda Mascarelli, The Washington Post: Imagine this scenario: You come home from work tired and frazzled, and your little kids are running wild. Perhaps this doesn’t require much imagination. People in such situations might find solace in a popular meditative practice called mindfulness.
With mindfulness, you train your mind to focus on the present and respond with reason before emotion. It’s about taking a pause and guiding yourself to become “aware enough in the moment so that before you react, you’re aware of how you’re responding to a situation,” says Ronald Epstein, a professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical …
A ”buddha brain” is one that knows how to be deeply happy, loving, and wise. We develop ourselves in this way by cultivating wholesome qualities and uprooting unwholesome ones. In a sense, we plant flowers and pull weeds in the garden of the mind – which means that we are gradually changing the brain for the better.
Gratitude is a powerful tool in this “garden” since what you rest your attention upon is what will shape your brain the most. That’s because “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Gratitude shifts your attention away from resentment, regret, and guilt – and therefore stops you from building up the neural substrates of these known factors of mental … Read more »
Dan Harris, ABC News: I never in a million years thought I’d be the type of person who meditates. I’ve had an aversion to all things airy-fairy since age five, when my parents – recovering hippies – sent me to a yoga class for kids. The teacher, who disapproved of the jeans I was wearing, made me strip down and do sun salutations in my tighty-whities.
But then, a few years ago, I heard about an explosion of scientific research suggesting that meditation has an extraordinary range of health benefits. In particular, I found the neuroscience compelling. Studies say you can sculpt your …
The Observer: It has been prescribed by the NHS for depression since 2004 but recently mindfulness has spawned a whole industry of evening classes and smartphone apps. What is the evidence that the practice – part meditation, part CBT – works?
At just after 6.15pm in a brightly lit conference room in Oxford, 22 grown men and women are lying on the floor trying hard to focus on their left knee. From across the room a lilting, calm voice has already invited the group to explore their feet and ankles with “gentle curiosity” and is heading up through the body. “When your mind …
Bill Hathaway, Yale News: These findings won’t appear on any Hallmark card, but romantic love tends to activate the same reward areas of the brain as cocaine, research has shown.
Now Yale School of Medicine researchers studying meditators have found that a more selfless variety of love — a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others without expectation of reward — actually turns off the same reward areas that light up when lovers see each other.
“When we truly, selflessly wish for the well-being of others, we’re not getting that same rush of excitement that comes with, say, a tweet from our romantic love interest, because it’s not about us at all,” said … Read more »
Bell Beth Cooper, Lifehacker: Ever since my dad tried to convince me to meditate when I was about 12, I’ve been fairly skeptical of this practice. It always seemed so vague and hard to understand that I just decided it wasn’t for me. More recently, I’ve actually found how simple (not easy, but simple) meditation can be and what huge benefit it can have for my day to day happiness.
As an adult, I first started my meditation practice with just two minutes per day. Two minutes! I got that idea from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog, where he points out how starting with …
Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process):
Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm
Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards
Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us”
The first post in this series – pet the lizard – was about how to soothe the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. The next one – feed the mouse – addressed how to help early mammalian neural systems feel rewarded and fulfilled. This JOT is about weaving the sense of being included and loved into the primate cerebral cortex.
In ancient times, membership in a band was critical to survival: … Read more »
We live in a world filled with material wealth, live longer and healthier lives, and yet anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and depression have never been more common. What are the driving forces behind these interlinked global epidemics? Professor Mark Williams examines the neuroscience of mindfulness in this short video.
Meditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it and you can find the one that suits you best.
Studies have shown that regular meditation promotes mindfulness (sustained observing awareness), whose benefits include decreased stress-related cortisol, insomnia, symptoms of autoimmune illnesses, PMS, asthma, falling back into depression, general emotional distress, anxiety, and panic, and increased immune system factors, control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, detachment from reactions, self-understanding, and general well-being.
In your brain, regular meditation increases gray matter (neuronal cell bodies and synapses) in the:
Maria Konnikova, New York Times: Meditation and mindfulness: the words conjure images of yoga retreats and Buddhist monks. But perhaps they should evoke a very different picture: a man in a deerstalker, puffing away at a curved pipe, Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. The world’s greatest fictional detective is someone who knows the value of concentration, of “throwing his brain out of action,” as Dr. Watson puts it. He is the quintessential unitasker in a multitasking world.
More often than not, when a new case is presented, Holmes does nothing more than sit back in his leather chair, close his eyes and put together …