How meditation can reshape our brains

November 11, 2015

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress.

Sara’s team at Harvard University uses neuroimaging techniques to study neurological, cognitive and emotional changes associated with the practice of meditation and yoga. They also incorporate measures of peripheral physiology (breathing, heart beat) in order to understand how meditation practice influences the brain-body interaction.

Mindfulness: the common thread

October 5, 2015

wildmind meditation newsGarrett Heaney, Montpelier Bridge: Over the past few years, in my quest to become a perfect human, I have sought a number of different therapies, therapists, counselors, and programming — each with its own specific agenda in attending to my mental health. Through it all has been a common thread that seems to tie together each of these individual disciplines in mental health. This thread, of course, is “mindfulness.”

It seems no matter where I was physically or mentally, whether battling depression, partying too much, or sitting in a weekly session of dialectical behavioral therapy, the concept of mindfulness was always right there in the …

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New neuroscience reveals four rituals that will make you happy

September 30, 2015

wildmind meditation newsEric Barker, Barking Up The Wrong Tree: You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life. Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You …

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What science says about meditation: it improves your focus and emotional control

August 28, 2015

wildmind meditation newsJoseph Stromberg, Vox: “Mindfulness meditation has been shown to cause distinct changes in brain structure and brain function,” says Yi-Yuan Tang, a Texas Tech neuroscientist who studies meditation and recently reviewed the state of the research for the journal Nature. In experiments, he and others have found that regular meditation seems to improve people’s focus and emotional control, in particular.

There are plenty of caveats to this research. It’s early on, and some of the studies include relatively few people. Many are controlled trials(which track how a period of regular meditation affects people, compared with a comparison group that doesn’t meditate), but others involve …

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How an intensive ten-day meditation retreat could transform your life for the better

August 19, 2015

wildmind meditation newsZoe Schlanger, The Independent: It was 5:30 in the morning on my third day of silent meditation when I noticed something in me take a sharp turn left. I was groggy, frustrated by my inability to sit still and hungry for the breakfast that was still an hour off. I got up from the spot on the floor of my bedroom where I’d been attempting to meditate and walked outside, to the new-growth woods behind the residential quarters at the Vipassana Meditation Centre in Shelburne, Massachusetts. It was springtime, and the outdoors seemed spring-loaded with potential: the buds on the trees were sharp little things …

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Why meditation should be taught in schools

July 17, 2015

wildmind meditation newsLea Waters, The Conversation: New research in the fields of psychology, education and neuroscience shows teaching meditation in schools is having positive effects on students’ well-being, social skills and academic skills.

A recent meta-review of the impact of meditation in schools combined the results from 15 studies and almost 1800 students from Australia, Canada, India, the UK, the US and Taiwan. The research showed meditation is beneficial in most cases and led to three broad outcomes for students: higher well-being, better social skills and greater academic skills.

Students who were taught meditation at school reported higher optimism, more positive emotions, stronger self-identity, greater self-acceptance and …

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What consciousness wants

July 17, 2015

Brain tree illustration, tree of knowledge

What does consciousness want? I don’t mean what do “you” want. I mean, what is consciousness fundamentally about? What is it trying to do? What is its nature?

Consciousness is undefinable. We can look at the brain with fancy machines and see activity going on. We can study neurons and understand the physical processes by which, for example, vision takes place. But how actual experience comes to arise on the basis of this is something that isn’t understood. This has been called the “hard problem” of explaining consciousness because scientists and philosophers don’t even know how to begin to think about this.

The philosopher and neuroscientist Alva Noë has said that consciousness is co-extensive … Read more »

How to mind your feelings

June 25, 2015

wildmind meditation newsDaniel Goleman, Lion’s Roar: While we can’t control when we feel anger or fear—or how strongly—we can gain some control over what we do while in their grip. If we can develop inner radar for emotional danger, we gain a choice point the Dalai Lama urges us to master.

When I asked the Dalai Lama how to find this inner choice point, he suggested one method: questioning destructive mental habits. Even though there may be a bit of legitimacy to our griev­ances, are the disturbing emotions we feel way out of proportion? Are such feelings familiar, recurring again and again? If so, we …

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Becoming mindful can help to deal with trauma

wildmind meditation newsBrian Levine, The Star: Pushing away bad memories can be unproductive.

Imagine learning about the death of your father, but then feeling the surprise and pain freshly each time you hear about it for years afterwards. That was the experience of the world’s most famous amnesiac, Henry Molaison, the subject of the book Permanent Present Tense.

These days, we’re constantly being encouraged to “live in the present” to reduce anxiety and improve well-being. It’s good advice, but pushing away bad memories — or being cut off from them like Henry Molaison — is unproductive. Nobody would enjoy living in the permanent present tense …

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The benefits and advantages to meditation in your life

wildmind meditation newsDavid McMillian, Shreveport Times: There is an abundance of scientific research that is being published to confirm the values of meditation and that’s encouraging people to take up the practice, along with people like your friend at work talking firsthand about their experiences. You don’t have to join a group to learn to meditate, although some find that helpful; there are many good books and resources available on the internet. Be aware that meditation can be discouraging especially for our packed “western minds” because it’s not easy to stop the thoughts, calm your mind, and get into a space that is quiet. Since …

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