My doubts about Deepak Chopra and the monetization of meditation

September 28, 2016
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John Horgan, Scientific American: A key to Deepak Chopra’s success has been his monetization of spiritual practices and promotion of their health benefits. But has he crossed an ethical line by suggesting that meditation and other mind-practices can “heal” cancer?

My first morning at “Sages & Scientists,” I walked into a cavernous ballroom as Deepak Chopra, on a stage, brilliantly illuminated, assured the audience that “consciousness is reality.”

He looked weird, almost too real. Then I realized I was seeing not Chopra himself, the spirituality and holistic-health mogul and host of the meeting, but an …

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The magic of mindfulness

September 8, 2016
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Ed Halliwell, Mindful: Health writer Ed Halliwell explains that mindfulness can help improve our mental and physical well-being, if we don’t sabotage the practice.

Barely a week goes by without some new clinical trial showing how programs which teach mindfulness can help people minimize suffering and enhance their well-being. Whether it be through reducing stress, managing illness, boosting the immune system or moving away from addictive habits, science is confirming what meditators have reported for thousands of years—that mindfulness is beneficial in a wide range of ways. At the same time, it’s important not to get …

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Mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots, and it may not be doing you good

August 26, 2016
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Mindfulness Meditation: Nine Guided Practices to Awaken Presence and Open Your Heart, by Tara Brach (2 CDs)
Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, The Conversation: Mindfulness as a psychological aid is very much in fashion. Recent reports on the latest finding suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in preventing the relapse of recurrent depression.

While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that (contrary to their hypothesis) mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.

Mindfulness is a technique extracted …

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Mindfulness meditation uses distinct neural pathways to reduce pain better than placebo

August 24, 2016
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Click here for Mindfulness of Breathing: Managing Pain, Illness, & Stress with Guided Mindfulness Meditation (MP3)
Thomas Rosenthal, Pain Medicine News: Recent research showed that mindfulness meditation is significantly more effective at reducing pain intensity and pain unpleasantness than placebo analgesia, sham mindfulness meditation and other cognitive-based approaches by using distinct neural mechanisms (J Neurosci 2015;35:15307-15325).

“This study is the first to demonstrate that mindfulness-related pain relief is mechanistically distinct from placebo analgesia,” the researchers wrote. “The elucidation of this distinction confirms the existence of multiple, cognitively driven, supraspinal mechanisms for pain modulation.” Specifically, mindfulness meditation–induced pain relief was associated with greater neural activation in higher-order …

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Kindness contagion

July 27, 2016
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Jamil Zaki, Scientific American: Witnessing kindness inspires kindness, causing it to spread like a virus.

Conformity gets a bad rap, and it often deserves one. People abuse drugs, deface national parks, and spend $150,000 on tote bags after seeing others do so. Peer pressure doesn’t have to be all bad, though. People parrot each other’s voting, healthy eating, and environmental conservation efforts, too. They also “catch” cooperation and generosity from others. Tell someone that his neighbors donated to a charity, and that person will boost his own giving, even a year later. Such …

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Kindness, good. Self kindness, better

July 19, 2016
wildmind meditation news
Want to be kinder to yourself? Try this: How To Stop Beating Yourself Up (MP3) by Bodhipaksa
I’m standing in the kitchen talking to one of my best friends. We’re both crying. And we don’t have much time.

The kids will be home soon. The visit will end. We’ll be back to communicating sporadically via time zone-challenged texts.

“I’m having this crisis of confidence,” she says. “At work. As a parent.”

“How come you can’t see yourself the way I see you?” I ask.

“I don’t know.”

“Go and see someone. Tell them you need to change the tape in your head. Tell them …

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“The Kindness Cascade”

July 6, 2016

woman doing yoga

Meditation and mindfulness are frequently in the news, mainly because of the dramatic increase in research projects showing the many benefits these practices bring. In the graph below you’ll see that from around a dozen scientific journal articles on mindfulness being published in the entire decade of the 1980s, there are now several hundred papers being published each year, with the numbers increasing annually.

mindfulness journal publications

Although most of the focus in this research has been on mindfulness, there’s now an increasing emphasis on exploring the benefits lovingkindness (metta) meditation. Lovingkindness is really just the very familiar quality of “kindness.” Kindness is a recognition of ourselves and others as feeling beings — we all want to be … Read more »

Mindfulness meditation seems to soothe breast cancer survivors

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HealthDay News, MedlinePlus: Mindfulness meditation seems to help breast cancer patients better manage symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and fear of recurrence, a new study suggests.

Previous research has found that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and anxiety in the general population as well as in breast cancer survivors. But, there hadn’t been many large, clinical trials to test the value of the practice among breast cancer patients, said study author Cecile Lengacher, director of the predoctoral fellowship program at the University of South Florida, in Tampa.

In her study, those who took part in the six-week …

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People who meditate are more aware of their unconscious brain

June 29, 2016
wildmind meditation news
Click here for Mindfulness and the Brain: A Professional Training in the Science and Practice of Meditative Awareness, by Jack Kornfield and Daniel J. Siegel
Clare Wilson, New Scientist: People who meditate are more aware of their unconscious brain activity – or so a new take on a classic “free will” experiment suggests.

The results hint that the feeling of conscious control over our actions can vary – and provide more clues to understanding the complex nature of free will.

The famous experiment that challenged our notions of free will was first done in 1983 by neuroscientist Benjamin Libet. It involved measuring electrical activity in someone’s brain …

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How to grow from your regrets

June 24, 2016
wildmind meditation news
Self-compassion is a skill that can be learned: How To Stop Beating Yourself Up (MP3) by Bodhipaksa
Kira M. Newman, Greater Good Science Center: According to a new study, self-compassion may help us benefit from regret rather than wallowing in it.

Sometimes, regret is a deadweight that we carry through life, slowing us down and making our shoulders ache. But other times, it turns into a kind of fuel; it propels rather than hinders, motivates rather than distracts.
What’s the difference between these two outcomes? A new paper by researchers at UC Berkeley suggests that it might be self-compassion.

The researchers recruited 400 adults and …

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