Is the “Self” Real?

Is the “Self” real? What’s the nature of the sense of being that remains when parts of the psyche fall away? The answer depends on how you define “Self.”  I use that word to refer to the central “I” that’s presumed in Western psychology and philosophy (and everyday usage) to be the owner of experiences and agent of actions, and which is defined and constituted by three attributes: unification (there’s just one “I”), permanence (the “I” stays the same, things happen … [Read More...]

The Effect of Relationships on the Evolving Human Brain

Your brain is the product of 3.5 billion years of intense evolutionary pressure, including 2.7 million years as tool-using hominids and over 100,000 years as homo sapiens. Human DNA is about 98-99% identical to chimpanzee DNA. But that crucial 1-2% difference is mainly the genetic factors affecting the brain – especially for its relationship functions. In fact, the latest science suggests that the evolution of the brain was driven in two steps having to do with the survival benefits of strong … [Read More...]

Feel Whole

What’s left out? The Practice: Feel whole. Why? When I look back on mistakes I’ve made – like dumping my anger on someone, making assumptions in haste, partying too much, losing my nerve, being afraid to speak from my heart – in all cases a part of me had taken over. You know what I mean. The parts of us that have a partial view, are driven by one aim, clamp down on other parts, really want to have a particular experience or to eat/drink/smoke a particular molecule, … [Read More...]

Video – How to Take in the Good

In this video, I explain how we can boost our positive emotions and positive experiences. This video was taken at the Greater Good Science Center in UC Berkeley as part of the Science of a Meaningful Life Series. The post Video – How to Take in the Good appeared first on Dr. Rick Hanson. … [Read More...]

What is the Best Time of Day to Meditate?

What is the Best Time of Day to Meditate? In all the studies (and reviews of studies) I’ve seen on meditation, I’ve never seen anything scientific about best time of day to meditate. Maybe it exists, but I’ve never heard of it. From the standpoint of a long-time meditator, plus someone who teaches meditation, my practical answer is this: the best time to meditate . . . is whatever time you will actually do it. It’s a variation on the old line that the best exercise in the world for you … [Read More...]

Brain Facts

Did you know? Neurons typically fire 5 – 50 times a second, with millions and even billions of them pulsing in harmony with each other many times a second; the electrical currents of that pulsing are revealed as brain waves in an EEG. In the half second it takes you to clap your hands, billions of synapses have activated in your brain. Most brain activity is lightning fast and forever outside of awareness. The slower, more congealed turgid stuff that we call thought is just the observable tip … [Read More...]

Intention of Harmlessness

This is a broad aim of not causing pain, loss, or destruction to any living thing. At a minimum, this is a sweeping resolution to avoid any whit of harm to another human being. The implications are far-reaching, since most of us participate daily in activities whose requirements or ripples may involve harm to others (e.g., use of fossil fuels that warms the planet, purchasing goods manufactured in oppressive conditions). Further, in American culture there is a strong tradition of rugged … [Read More...]

Love Freely

How do you love? The Practice: Love freely. Why? In my early 20′s, I went through Rolfing, a form of deep-tissue bodywork, and I nervously anticipated the 5th session, the one that goes deep into the belly. But instead of gobs of repressed emotional pain, what poured out was love – waves and waves of love that I’d pushed down due to embarrassment, fears of closeness, and my struggles with my mother. It felt fantastic to let love flow freely. Compassion, empathy, kindness, … [Read More...]

Your Wonderful Brain

Although your brain isn’t heavy – about three pounds of soft, gooshy tissue like tapioca pudding – it has about 1.1 trillion cells altogether. One hundred billion of those are in the “gray matter,” a kind of “skin” of nerve tissue wrapping around the “white matter” that comprises most of the bulk of the brain. The gray matter is where most of the action for conscious experience takes place. When a neuron fires, sending neurotransmitters … [Read More...]

Right Intention

Of course, the first question regarding intention is, for what? All the great wisdom traditions of the world, and all the great moral philosophers, have grappled with this question. What should we want? There are many ways to approach this question. Some try to answer it in terms of discerning the will or desires of their sense of a Divine influence, of God. Others through resort to certain ideals or abstractions. And others through reliance on some kind of authority, such as a priestly class or … [Read More...]