“The Compassionate Brain” free seven-part video series

November 5, 2012

For Sounds True, I’m hosting a free Seven-part video series with extraordinary guests – The Compassionate Brain – that will give you effective ways to change your brain and heart and life. So far over 25,000 people have signed up for this free series, and I hope you will join us – and help spread the word to others.

The series began October 8, 2012, and runs on seven consecutive Monday nights, 8-9 pm Eastern time, through November 19. You can go back and watch the archived videos from previous interviews.

Each week, I’m interviewing a world-class scholar/teacher (in order): Richie Davidson, Dan Siegel, Tara Brach, Dachar Keltner, Kelly McGonigal, Kristin Neff, and Jean Houston … Read more »

The world’s happiest man talks about happiness

October 5, 2012

Sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.

Transcript: So, I guess it is a result of globalization that you can find Coca-Cola tins on top of Everest and a Buddhist monk in Monterey. (Laughter) And so I just came, two days ago, from … Read more »

Stressed out? Try mindfulness meditation

September 18, 2012

Meryl Davids Landau, US News: One of the hottest forms of stress reduction today is actually one of the oldest: meditation. But the kind making the rounds of hospitals, community centers, and even schools in increasing numbers doesn’t involve chanting “Om” while sitting on a cushion with closed eyes; instead, participants are trained to pay attention to their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, and to view them neutrally, “without assigning an emotional value that they are strongly positive or negative,” says University of Wisconsin–Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, coauthor of The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

The idea is to allow parts of the …

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Entrepreneurs’ secret anti-stress weapon

April 19, 2012

Jessica Stillman, Inc.: A new study shows even small amounts of meditation relieve stress and boost health. No wonder many business bigwigs turn to it.

Science and religion are often at odds, but at least occasionally there is convergence. Buddhist monks and devoted yogis have long contended that meditation reduces stress. A recent study agrees, even if the practice is stripped of any particular spiritual belief.

The randomized, controlled study was carried about by a team including a Duke university psychologist and an Aetna executive among others and was recently published in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The research assigned 239 employees to either weekly …

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The scientific argument for being emotional

February 28, 2012

Hannah Tepper, Salon: At the end of his second year of Harvard graduate school, neuroscientist and bestselling author Richard Davidson did something his colleagues suspected would mark the end of his academic career: He skipped town and went to India and Sri Lanka for three months to “study meditation.”

In the ’70s, just as today, people tended to lump meditation into the new-age category, along with things like astrology, crystals, tantra and herbal “remedies.”

But contrary to what his skeptics presumed, not only did Davidson return to resume his studies at Harvard, his trip also marked the beginning of Davidson’s most spectacular body of …

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Meditation helps kids pay attention, leading researcher says

February 17, 2012

Gordon Hoekstra, PostMedia News: Simple meditation techniques, backed up with modern scientific knowledge of the brain, are helping kids hard-wire themselves to be able to better pay attention and become kinder, says neuroscientist Richard Davidson.

Davidson — who will speak Friday at the University of British Columbia on his new co-authored book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain — has put his research into practice at elementary schools in Madison, Wis.

About 200 students at four elementary schools have used breathing techniques to hard-wire their brains to improve their ability to focus on their work.

"It’s so widely popular and successful, the district wants …

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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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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 »

Re-Wiring your brain for happiness: Research shows how meditation can physically change the brain

July 28, 2011

Dan Harris & Erin Brady (ABC News): A quiet explosion of new research indicating that meditation can physically change the brain in astonishing ways has started to push into mainstream.

Several studies suggest that these changes through meditation can make you happier, less stressed — even nicer to other people. It can help you control your eating habits and even reduce chronic pain, all the while without taking prescription medication.

Meditation is an intimate and intense exercise that can be done solo or in a group, and one study showed that 20 million Americans say they practice meditation. It has been used to help treat addictions, to clear psoriasis and even to treat men with … Read more »

Into ‘the science of thriving’

July 23, 2011

Anndee Hochman (The Inquirer): Richard Davidson has seen people change their minds.

Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has used high-tech imaging tools to peer into the brains of Buddhist monks, electrodes trailing like spaghetti from their scalps, as they practice meditation. And he has seen their brains light up in areas related to empathy, attention, and mind-body interaction.

Davidson’s conclusion: We can train our brains – and our selves – to be more attentive, more compassionate, and even happier. “The key point is that happiness and other positive characteristics are best regarded as skills,” he says. “We can . . . engage in intentional efforts to cultivate positive habits of mind.”

Davidson … Read more »