One of the most interesting studies I’ve ever seen was by James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor, and Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, who is now associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.
Poets are particularly prone to taking their own lives, and Pennebaker and Stirman were interested to see if the writings of poets who had killed themselves contained linguistic clues that could have predicted their fate. They matched together, by age, era, nationality, educational background, and sex, poets who had and had not killed themselves, and ran their works through a computer program that looked for patterns in the language they used.
What they found was that the poets who … Read more »
Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Guardian: Mindfulness is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon, supported by increasingly rigorous scientific research, and driven in part by a longing for new practices that might help us to better apprehend and solve the challenges that threaten our health.
This week a landmark British report will lay out recommendations for the provision of mindfulness across many public policy areas. Mindful Nation UK, based on evidence presented to an all-party group of the UK parliament, carries enormous promise for health policy in Britain and the wider world.
The World Health Organisation has warned that mental ill-health will be the biggest burden of …
Ann Lukits, Wall Street Journal: Washing the dishes may be a convenient detox for overwrought minds, a study in the journal Mindfulness suggests. The study found that washing dishes mindfully—focusing on the smell of the soap, and the shape and feel of the dishes, for example—significantly reduced nervousness and increased mental stimulation in dishwashers compared with a control group.
Mindful dishwashing also heightened the sense of time pleasurably slowing down. Studies have associated altered time perception with greater psychological well-being, the researchers said.
Mindfulness refers both to a peaceful cognitive state and a popular form of therapeutic meditation that calms the mind …
Adam Hoffman, Greater Good Science Center: From the pressures of tight deadlines to anxiety about job security, the stresses of the workplace take their toll far beyond the office, infiltrating our relationships, undermining our thoughts— and often affecting our ability to sleep. In fact, a recent survey found that 85 percent of U.S. workers lose sleep due to work-related stress. And if we’re not sleeping well, it’s easier to get derailed at work and elsewhere.
However, new findings from a research team in the Netherlands suggest that even a small amount of mindfulness meditation can help calm our hyperactive minds and improve our sleep. …
Timi Gustafson, Huffington Post: According to the 17th Century French philosopher Blaise Pascal, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Such a statement may sound a bit overwrought for most moderns, however, it is a well-known fact that ubiquitous exposure to noise is one of the great stress factors of our time. Unfortunately, even for those who seek it, silence is hard to come by.
To be sure, not everybody suffers from lack of quiet. Most of us are now used to being constantly connected with the outside world, with our workplace, with family and friends …
Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht and William A. Cunningham: New York Times: One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.
You’ve probably heard this saying before. It is thought to capture an unfortunate truth about empathy: While a single crying child or injured puppy tugs at our heartstrings, large numbers of suffering people, as in epidemics, earthquakes and genocides, do not inspire a comparable reaction.
Studies have repeatedly confirmed this. It’s a troubling finding because, as recent research has demonstrated, many of us believe that if more lives are at stake, we will — and should — feel more empathy (i.e., vicariously …
Shame is a very primal emotion, one that has a lot of traction in the mind.
As we grow up, from infants to adults, shame elaborates many nuances, like the branches and twigs growing from a single trunk.
Let’s consider four common sources of shame spectrum feelings.
First, consider a young child who is continually signaling her state of being and her needs. Maybe her caregivers respond routinely with attunement, empathy, and skillful responsiveness: this sends messages, associated with positive feelings, of existing for and mattering to her caregivers, of being inside the circle.
Or maybe her caregivers ignore her signals, or continually misinterpret them, or simply have a kind of dismissive tone – “I’ll … Read more »
Ann Lukits, Wall Street Journal: Self-critical people were significantly kinder and more compassionate toward themselves after practicing lovingkindness meditation compared with a control group, according to a pilot study in Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. The technique, rooted in Buddhism, may help to reduce symptoms of depression, the researchers suggest.
Lovingkindness is a form of meditation designed to cultivate feelings of warmth and kindness to all people, including oneself, the researchers said. Practicing the technique may activate a soothing-caring regulation system that is probably deficient in chronic self-critics, they suggest.
Self-critical perfectionism is implicated in a number of psychological conditions, such as eating disorders …
Sarah Berry, Stuff.co.nz: Meditation is many things, but it is not always relaxing.
It restores clarity, relieves stress, changes our brains for the better, encourages creativity and calms our nervous system.
But a new study has found that we experience elevated heart rates during certain types of meditation.
Participants in the study were asked to practise loving-kindness meditation, thought-observation meditation and a relaxing breathing meditation technique.
The neuroscience researchers found that heart rate and effort were higher during loving-kindness meditation and observing-thoughts meditations.
“In contrast to implicit beliefs that meditation is always relaxing and associated with low arousal, the current results show that …
Dragos Bratasanu, Huffington Post: A few years ago I traveled to Nepal to hike in the Himalayas, learn a bit more about myself and about the world from the Buddhist spiritual teachers. For over seven years I have went back and forth across the bridge between science and spirituality. I have studied both, trying to understand why we try to separate them, why we need to follow one path or the other. I never could quite understand why a scientist cannot spend time in meditation or pray and why a person on the spiritual path can’t actually think?
As the night embraced the …