The opportunity of “the magic quarter-second”

November 13, 2012

In her book My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor explains that the natural life span of an emotion—the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body—is only a minute and a half, a mere ninety seconds. After that, we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So, if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression, or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue.

Modern neuroscience has discovered a fundamental truth: Neurons that fire together, wire together. When we rehearse a looping set of thoughts and emotions, we create deeply grooved patterns of emotional … Read more »

Stepping out of obsessive thinking

October 27, 2012

I’d gone into therapy during my sophomore year in college, and remember the day I brought up my current prime-time fixation: how to stop binge eating. No matter how committed I felt to my newest diet plan, I kept blowing it each day, and mercilessly judged myself for being out of control. When I wasn’t obsessing on how I might concoct a stricter, more dramatic weight-loss program, I was getting caught up in food cravings.

My therapist listened quietly for a while, and then asked a question that has stayed with me ever since: “When you are obsessing about eating, what are you feeling in your body?” As my attention shifted, I immediately noticed the … Read more »

Looking for the silver lining of our dysfunction

October 23, 2012
“A mess in process”
One of the indisputable realities about being human is that we all have weaknesses. No one escapes this.

Some of us are able to acknowledge these less attractive aspects without being unduly fazed. Others tend to cultivate strategies to help hide the cracks. Yet others convince themselves that their weaknesses are inherent aberrations, with this view then becoming a rationale for indulging in aberrant behaviour. It is the last of these views that I tend to work with in addiction.

Some of us convince ourselves that we are such a waste of space that really, we should commit ourselves to a life of substance-induced mayhem or simply rid the rest of … Read more »

Business Insight: To lead, don’t be afraid to pause

October 15, 2012

Dawn House, The Salt Lake Tribune: Kevin Cashman, a business coach and author of “The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward,” says economic and personal crashes can be tied to addiction for constant action.

Why is it important to step back?

In our 24/7 globally connected culture with a deluge of information and so much coming at us at once, the loss of pause potential is epidemic.

If leaders do not step back to stop momentum, gain perspective, to transcend the immediacies of life and to accelerate their leadership, we will continue to crash economically, personally and collectively.

Pause is the antidote to …

Read the original article &raquo

How to kill a thought (in a good way): more on mindfulness

June 26, 2012

A friend recently said to me, “I often feel like my thoughts are hammers, and they keep on hammering down on this thing known as my brain.” This is a pretty apt description of how a lot of people feel every day; I’ve certainly experienced it.

I’ve written, here and there, about how the brain copes and how to dial down the background level of stress. But an even more fundamental question is how to deal with the negative, or otherwise undesirable, thoughts we have, on a moment-to-moment basis.

In other words, when just you and your brain are alone together, how do …

Read the original article »

Give your head a rest from thinking

May 22, 2012

“Rest your weary head.” The traditional saying that’s this week’s practice has been sinking in for me lately. Thoughts have been swirling around like a sandstorm about work, things I’ve been reading, household tasks, finances, concerns about people, a yard that needs mowing, loose ends, projects, etc. etc. The other day I told my wife: “I’m thinking about too many things.” Know the feeling?

By “head” I mean the cognitive aspects of experience such as planning, analyzing, obsessing, considering, worrying, making little speeches inside, going back over situations or conversations, and trying to figure things out. “Weary” means being fatigued due to continued exertion or endurance, sometimes also with a sense of being dismayed, even … Read more »

Tips for Type A’s who can’t meditate

April 23, 2012

Adriana Barton: Meditation can change the brain from a mass of neurons twitching with anxiety to grey matter humming on a Zen wavelength. And you needn’t be a Buddhist monk to benefit.

Neuroscientists have discovered that after just eight weeks, non-meditators who start a mindfulness practice show decreased brain activity in the amygdala – the brain region that controls anxiety – and increased grey matter in regions involved in perspective-taking and regulating emotions.

Too bad the idea of meditation stresses people out.

People think they have to sit in a formal cross-legged pose and “get rid of their thoughts,” says Dee Willock, the …

Read the original article »

Peace of mind

October 1, 2011

One of the most valuable things we have is peace of mind.

When we are not feeling peaceful, our mind may be racing, or we may be thinking obsessively, and we are likely feeling stressed and frantic.

Meditation, even for only a few minutes, can be the key to your peace of mind.

Have you ever had trouble concentrating on a project, or falling asleep at night because your mind is racing or you are obsessing over a problem?

It seems that the mind has a mind of its own! Meditation is a method to tame the mind and bring a sense of peace and serenity.

The next time your mind is moving like a … Read more »

Making Wise Decisions

September 6, 2011

Decisions shape our lives, but psychologists say we are remarkably bad at making them. That’s true of strategic decisions, tactical decisions and decisions made in the heat of the moment. Typically, we are poor at assessing risk, understanding probabilities and anticipating consequences. We overestimate our capacity to make good decisions and underestimate the true influence of emotion, bias and assumptions in what we do.

We need to learn for ourselves how to make good decisions and that’s where the Buddha comes in. His teachings won’t help with the specifics, but they offer insights into the process of how to make a wise decision. And the starting point is clearing our minds of the approaches that … Read more »

Study: Buddhist meditation promotes rational thinking

August 11, 2011

Michael Haederle: It’s no secret that humans are not entirely rational when it comes to weighing rewards. For example, we might be perfectly happy with how much money we’re making — until we find out how much more the guy in the next cubicle is being paid.

But a new study suggests that people who regularly practice Buddhist meditation actually process these common social situations differently — and the researchers have the brain scans to prove it.

Ulrich Kirk and collaborators at Baylor Medical College in Houston had 40 control subjects and 26 longtime meditators participate in a well-known experiment called the Ultimatum Game. It goes like this…

Read the rest of this article…