The dark knight of the soul

June 28, 2014

wildmind meditation newsTomas Rocha, The Atlantic: For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.

Set back on quiet College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, sits a dignified, four story, 19th-century house that belongs to Dr. Willoughby Britton. Inside, it is warm, spacious, and organized. The shelves are stocked with organic foods. A solid wood dining room table seats up to 12. Plants are ubiquitous. Comfortable pillows are never far from reach. The basement—with its own bed, living space, and private bathroom—often hosts a rotating cast of yogis and meditation teachers. Britton’s own living space and office are on the …

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Gratitude promotes patience

March 31, 2014

仏像I wasn’t surprised today to learn that a new study has found a connection between gratitude and patience. After all, if you value what you have, which is what gratitude accomplishes for us, then there’s less emotional need to go seeking something else.

The study, carried out by a team of researchers from Northeastern University, the University of California, Riverside, and Harvard Kennedy School, looked specifically at financial impatience. Financial impatience is a well-known phenomenon where larger rewards in the future are considered less important than smaller rewards in the present.

Participants in the study chose between receiving a larger sum in the future, or a smaller sum now. The researchers used real money so … Read more »

Meditation as medicine?

March 3, 2014

wildmind meditation For centuries, people have meditated to gain deeper insight and wisdom about themselves and their lives. More recently, researchers have studied meditation to gain insight about its effect on psychological wellbeing. Can it help ease pain, depression, or anxiety? Does it relieve stress, improve mood and concentration, or short-circuit substance abuse? What is its effect on sleep and weight?

To find out exactly what meditation can and cannot do, Madhav Goya, M.D., M.P.H, assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, conducted a review of the study literature to date. Dr. Goyal …

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Mindfulness meditation may improve decision making

February 12, 2014

wildmind meditation newsAnna Mikulak, Association for Psychological Science: One 15-minute focused-breathing meditation may help people make smarter choices, according to new research from researchers at INSEAD and The Wharton School. The findings are published in the February issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

People have trouble cutting their losses: They hold on to losing stocks too long, they stay in bad relationships, and they continue to eat large restaurant meals even when they’re full. This behavior, often described as “throwing good money after bad,” is driven by what behavioral scientists call the “sunk-cost bias”:
“Most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their initial decisions lead to undesirable outcomes,” says … Read more »

Separating feelings and thoughts

January 6, 2014

White isolated zipperOne of the participants in our current 28 Day meditation challenge reported that she was experiencing stress because of a new job.

New jobs can be very challenging and bring up a lot of self doubt. I remember that well.

She talked about “feelings of inadequacy and uselessness,” and I could instantly see a practice that would help her deal with the challenges of her new job. The practice is to distinguish between feelings and thoughts.

From the perspective of Buddhist psychology, inadequacy and uselessness are not feelings. Actual feelings that we might experience in a challenging new job include anxiety, or fear, or confusion. “I am inadequate” and “I am useless” are thoughts. … Read more »

Drop the “only”

January 3, 2014

Buddha imageOur 28 Day Meditation Challenge, called Sit : Breathe : Love, started on January 1, with well over 1000 participants.

The aim is not just to try to meditate every day, but — far more importantly — to work on setting up the habit of daily meditation.

A few times people who are reporting on how they’re doing say they meditated, but it was “only” for 20 minutes or “only” for 15 minutes. I’ve said similar things myself.

But that word “only” bothers me. Using the word “only” is a great way of taking something you’ve done that’s good and making yourself feeling bad about it. Compare “I exercised three days this week” and … Read more »

Perception, reaction & mindfulness

Codie Surratt, PsychCentral: I am frequently asked “What is mindfulness?”

I start by saying something poignant like “It’s being aware and in the present moment” or “It’s about allowing each experience to wash over us like a cool spring rain, without attachment or judgments.” I love these answers and they generally tend to spawn a lively conversation about experiences, judgment and simply allowing ourselves to be present.

Mindfulness, though, is also about perception and reaction. Here’s what I mean…

I love Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived a World War II concentration camp. He is a genuine hero of mine…

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Who you hang out with can affect your mental health, for good or for bad

April 22, 2013

One of the things the Buddha stressed very strongly in his teachings was being careful who we choose to spend time with. This is because our values and our mental habits will tend to align themselves with the values and mental habits of others.

At his bluntest he said things like: “Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let him resolutely pursue a solitary course; there is no fellowship with the fool.” (Dhammapada 61).

He also praised association with friends who embody skillful qualities:

“I do not see even a single thing that so causes unarisen wholesome qualities to arise and arisen unwholesome qualities to decine as good friendship (kalyana

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Can ‘mindfulness’ help you focus?

March 27, 2013

Annie Murphy Paul, Time Ideas: If there’s any time when we should be paying close attention to what we’re doing, it’s when we’re under pressure to perform — whether taking a test like the SAT or on a deadline at work. But too often, our minds wander even in these crucial moments — distracted by a ticking clock or consumed with worries about how well we’re doing or how much time we have left.

Jonathan Schooler, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wondered if instruction in mindfulness — the capacity to focus on the here and now…

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How meditation can help students to stay focused and improve their grades

March 26, 2013

teen meditatingEvery summer I spend six weeks teaching a study skills and personal development course to teens from low income families as part of a federally funded program called Upward Bound (not Outward Bound). It’s kind of crazy: every year I feel like I almost totally miss the summer because I’m teaching, grading, doing class prep, and attending various meetings. I end up sleep-deprived and completely exhausted. And the pay’s not great. But it’s totally worth it.

Part of the course involves meditation, and it’s consistently the part of the course that gets the biggest positive response in the end-of-course evaluations that the kids hand in. I’ve described the educational benefits mostly in terms of … Read more »