New books for new thinking in a new year

January 9, 2012

I thought to write about books to ring in the New Year last Sunday, but my column was due almost a week ahead and I was still enjoying all the wonderful holiday treats hanging around my home. Not to mention the parties, the bowl games and champagne.

But now that the New Year is here and I’m in diet/resolution mode, I’m ready to share my collection of, shall we say, new thinking books, the ones we hope will shape us up physically and mentally.

Let’s start with a master. The Dalai Lama continues his dialogue with scientists and experts with the Mind and Life …

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Jon Kabat-Zinn gives advice for unhappy news junkies

December 23, 2011

Jon Brooks: There’s been a lot of bad news in recent years with the economy decimated and unemployment high and budget cuts. For consumers of news who find themselves overly affected by negative reports, what can they do in terms of mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn: If they’re very affected by it and negatively affected by it, what mindfulness would suggest is that you start to look at that and actually experience how you’re being affected by it. How it’s affecting your body, how it’s affecting the rest of your day, how much of your …

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Audio: Jon Kabat-Zinn on people negatively affected by the news.

Creating a mindful society

September 11, 2011

Mindfulness is a simple yet profound practice that changes lives. If you’re committed to mindful living, or just want to learn more about the transformative power of mindfulness, join Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard J. Davidson, and U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan for this landmark gathering of the mindfulness community, September 30–October 1, 2011.

With a rich program of dialogue, practice, and breakout sessions, participants will explore all the proven, practical ways that mindfulness can benefit our lives and transform our society, from health, work, and family to education, leadership, and policy. This groundbreaking conference will feature keynote presentations by outstanding leaders in the mindfulness field.

Whether your interest is applying mindfulness at home, in your work, … Read more »

Adventures in mindfulness

March 28, 2011

Gill South tries a meditation retreat but finds it hard to keep to the code of silence.

It’s probably not the best idea to arrive at a peaceful, “silent” leadership retreat, red-faced and sweating. The walk to its location at Eden Garden on the side of Mt Eden took longer than I’d thought.

My meditation retreat today is being run by clinical psychologists Lisa Markwick and Marijka Batenburg – the workshop is based on Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “mindfulness” methods. Lisa is an experienced leadership facilitator and coach with her company Mindful Adventures and has been recommended to me by Barry Coates, the executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, an excellent big thinker and an advocate … Read more »

Meditation alters your grey matter, studies show

February 21, 2011

Move over cryptic crosswords and Sudoku, and make way for the ultimate mental workout. It’s called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR for short. Recent neuroscience research shows that novices using the method – developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1970s – can get results in just eight weeks.

Brain-changing results, that is.

A 2010 study found that non-meditators who had eight weeks of MBSR training were more likely than a control group to access the brain region that provides a bodily sense of the “here and now” as opposed to the region associated with worry.

In other research published in January, brain scans of MBSR participants with no previous meditation experience … Read more »

“Mindfulness for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

June 1, 2010

Mindfulness for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your LifeVidyamala, a long-term pain sufferer, rejoices in a new offering from Jon Kabat-Zinn, but experiences regret it wasn’t available years ago.

I was delighted to to be asked to review this new offering from the founder of mindfulness in healthcare: Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is a two-CD audio book combining extensive background information with guided meditations.

Disc One (session one)

The first CD (or session as the CD is labeled) is entirely taken up with short lectures on various aspects of applying mindfulness to chronic pain of any sort. I listened avidly and welcomed everything he had to say and feel. Jon comes across with real depth and understanding of what it is like to … Read more »

Slide show: Dalai Lama visit

When the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds held grand-opening events May 15-16, a familiar guest was on hand to celebrate the occasion. As he has a number of times — most recently in 2007 — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama traveled to Madison to continue ongoing work with the new center’s director, Richard Davidson, a UW–Madison professor of psychology and psychiatry, who also directs the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior. Davidson, who has studied Tibetan monks to explore how meditation affects the brain, established the new center to investigate healthy qualities of the mind and how to cultivate those qualities in children and adults. The weekend’s events included a … Read more »

Fit to be tried: Mindfulness

April 28, 2010

What’s a good way to ease tension, seek a sliver of serenity, and calm that troublesome mental chatter? Try taking a course in mindfulness.

But first the title: why learn a technique that sounds like “mind fullness” when most of us would be keen to avoid some of the estimated 70,000 thoughts we have a day?

“When we take the time to notice what’s going on inside ourselves, we discover our mind is a very busy place,” says Mary O’Callaghan, a psychotherapist and mindfulness trainer, and director of Dublin’s Oscailt Integrative Health Centre.

Mindfulness meditation aims to bring a more conscious awareness to our daily lives.

“We spend of a lot of our time thinking … Read more »

Researchers see promise in treating addictive behaviors with mindfulness meditation

April 19, 2010

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel

When the stresses of life become too much for him, Ken Volante takes a figurative step back and tries out being SOBER. That “nice little trick,” as he describes it, is the backbone of mindfulness meditation and it helps him remain sober.

It’s a series of steps that allows him to cope with the cravings that would lead him to drink. So important is this practice that he carries with him a laminated card listing those steps.

When he practices being SOBER, he Stops, Observes what’s going on, focuses on his Breathing (divorces himself from what’s going on around him), Expands (focus what’s happening to one’s body) and Responds (but constructively).

A … Read more »

Preschoolers practice meditation

April 10, 2010

Take a breath. Pay attention as the air goes in…and out. There, you’ve just had a moment of mindfulness. 

In the 1970s, a young scientist named Jon Kabat-Zinn began introducing mindfulness meditation to people who suffered from chronic pain. He found that bringing awareness to the pain helped them cope with it. The techniques were rooted in Eastern practices taught by the Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha. And they caught on in the medical world.

Over the decades, mindfulness has become integrated into treatments for physical pain, anxiety and depression. It’s put into practice at esteemed medical centers such as UCSF. And recently, its reach has expanded into some schools. Supporters say it … Read more »