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Rick Hanson PhD

Feb 16, 2014

The Mind, the Brain, and God – Part III

Universal MindIn Part I and Part II of this series, we discussed the meaning of the words: mind; brain and God, and looked at the interdependence between the mind and the brain.

In this last part of the discussion we’ll examine the neural correlates and morality and summarize the discussion.

Do Neural Correlates Mean There’s No Soul?

The last sentence in the article on the NPR site really caught my eye: “If something as complex as morality has a mechanical explanation, [the scholar said], it will be hard to argue that people have, or need, a soul.”

First, to repeat the point made in the previous blog post, it’s simplistic to claim that morality …

Rick Hanson PhD

Feb 15, 2014

The Mind, the Brain and God – Part II

Universal MindIn Part I we discussed the meaning of the words mind, brain and God and saw how the mind and the brain are interdependent.

In this segment we’ll go into the popular arguments for and against God and further into the link between the mind and the brain.

Proofs and Disproofs

Lately, numerous authors have tried to rebut beliefs in God (e.g., The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins), while others have tried to rebut the rebuttals (e.g., Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins’ Case against God). The intensity of these debates is often startling; people commonly talk past each other, arguing at different levels; and the “evidence” marshaled for one view or another …

Rick Hanson PhD

Feb 14, 2014

The Mind, the Brain, and God – Part I

Universal MindWith all the research on mind/brain connections these days – Your brain in lust or love! While gambling or feeling envious! While meditating, praying, or having an out-of-body experience! – it’s natural to wonder about Big Questions about the relationships among the mind, the brain, and God.For instance, some people have taken the findings that some spiritual experiences have neural correlates to mean that the hand of God is at work in the brain. Others have interpreted the same research to mean that spiritual experiences are “just” neural, and thus evidence against the existence of God or other supernatural forces. These debates are updated versions of longstanding philosophical and religious wrestlings …

Wildmind Meditation News

Feb 10, 2014

Children ‘need lessons in how to concentrate’ because of impact of social media

wildmind meditation newsRichard Garner, The Independant: Children should be taught “attentiveness” skills to help combat the influence of social media, the shadow Education Secretary has said. In an interview with The Independent, Labour’s Tristram Hunt said: “They need to learn the ability to concentrate for sustained periods – especially in today’s world of short attention spans. I think young people need help with being able to do that.”

The intervention comes at a time of rising concern about the impact of the internet and digital gadgets on children’s brain development. The pledge is part of a drive to give more emphasis to developing attributes like …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Feb 03, 2014

Meditation study links history to science

wildmind meditation newsAshna Mukhi, Brown Daily Herald: Meditation study links history to science; Light experiences during meditation similar to visualizations caused by sensory deprivation.

Practitioners of Buddhist meditation have reported seeing globes, jewels and little stars during meditation-induced light experiences. The neurobiological explanation for these visions was the subject of a recent study led by Willoughby Britton, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior, and Jared Lindahl, professor of religious studies at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology Jan. 3, connects first-hand accounts of these light experiences and reports of them from Buddhist texts to scientific literature …

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Wildmind Meditation News

Oct 24, 2013

How to build a happier brain

Julie Beck, The Atlantic: A neuropsychological approach to happiness, by meeting core needs (safety, satisfaction, and connection) and training neurons to overcome a negativity bias.

There is a motif, in fiction and in life, of people having wonderful things happen to them, but still ending up unhappy. We can adapt to anything, it seems—you can get your dream job, marry a wonderful human, finally get 1 million dollars or Twitter followers—eventually we acclimate and find new things to complain about.

If you want to look at it on a micro level, take an average day. You go to work; make some money; eat…

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Bodhipaksa

Sep 19, 2013

When your meditation practice doesn’t seem to be going anywhere…

Buddha StatueI often hear from people who are worried because their meditation practice doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I think it’s good to be aware of the different ways that change happens when we meditate since your practice hitting a plateau may not be a problem, but just part of a natural process.

Sometimes change happens rapidly. This may happen early on, or at any point in your practice. One striking example was told to me by a friend who owns a health club. One of his employees was very prickly and hard to work with, but my friend realize that this woman had really mellowed out, almost overnight. She was now …

Wildmind Meditation News

Aug 02, 2013

How does meditation actually work?

Christof Koch, Salon: Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

This line from Herman Hesse’s 1922 novel Siddhartha came unbidden to me during a recent weeklong visit to Drepung Monastery in southern India. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had invited the U.S.-based Mind and Life Institute to familiarize the Tibetan Buddhist monastic community living in exile in India with modern science. About a dozen of us—physicists, psychologists, brain scientists and clinicians, leavened by a French philosopher—introduced quantum mechanics, neuroscience, consciousness and various clinical aspects of meditative practices…

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Wildmind Meditation News

Jun 23, 2013

Meditation’s effects on emotion shown to persist

Traci Pedersen, PsychCentral: Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research.

“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.

“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing…

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Bodhipaksa

May 18, 2013

“Perhaps everything terrifying is deep down a helpless thing that needs our help.” Rainer Maria Rilke

rilke_33“Perhaps everything terrifying is deep down a helpless thing that needs our help,” Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to a friend and protégé, encouraging him to make peace with his inner demons.

It’s an interesting phrase, “inner demons.” We think of the demonic as being that which is evil, that which aims at our destruction. And yet I don’t believe in the concept of self-sabotage.

Yes, I know, you sometimes act in ways that keep you from doing what you want to do, even when what you want to do is likely to bring your happiness. And I know, you sometimes act in ways that limit you and keep you bound to suffering, even …