Wholesome Intentions – The Neurology of Intention

Our intentions arise in the brain, are represented in the brain, and are pursued in the brain. Where else? Therefore, a basic understanding of how intentions work in the brain – and thus in your mind – is a very useful thing to have. The Executive Functions The brain is like a committee, with many

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How to Change Your Brain

In this video, I explain how mindfulness meditation can strengthen our brains and help us focus our attention. This video was taken at the Greater Good Science Center in UC Berkeley as part of the Science of a Meaningful Life Series.
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Wholesome Intentions – Introduction

These statements about reality, about the way things really are, are central to Buddhism, and you can test them for yourself: Everything happens because of preceding causes. Everything, both inside our minds and outside in the world. Those causes lead to results that are either beneficial or harmful, for ourselves and others. Causes originate within

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Free Hardwiring Happiness Reading Guide Now Available!

I’ve created a reading guide for my book, Hardwiring Happiness, to take you through the concepts and details of each chapter, offering more opportunities to practice, reflect and apply the teachings to your every day life. The reading guide is a helpful resource for individuals or reading groups, and you can view and download it

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Key Points of Awareness – Part II

Visit Part I of this blog post here. Concentration Concentration has two central factors: applying attention to an object and sustaining it there, like an ice skater plants her foot (applying) and then glides along (sustaining). When you practice formal concentration, keep returning attention to the object (e.g., breath, sensation, emotion, memory of your mother),

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Taking in the Good

Today we don’t gather our own food, fight off wild animals, or live in caves. And yet we’re equipped with stone-aged brains. With practice, however, we can change our brains, and our lives, for the better.
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Developing An Inner Protector

How do I develop an inner protector? Not being able to find an inner protector is a real fact of the inner of world of many people. Developing one is a matter of committed practice toward one’s own well-being, which will gradually change the brain. Some steps along the way: Look for little natural moments

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When Good Is Stronger Than Bad

I developed the Taking in the Good Course – six, 3-hour classes combining presentations, experiential activities, and written materials – teaching participants how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner strengths. The preliminary (not yet peer-reviewed) findings in a recent study conducted in collaboration with faculty from UC Berkeley and UC Davis indicate that people who

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Overcoming the Negativity Bias

You were quoted in a short post about negativity bias in which you stated, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positives ones.” Can you explain this in more detail? As the brain evolved, it was critically important to learn from negative experiences – if one survived them! “Once burned, twice

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The Fight or Flight Response

“Is the “fight or flight” response the functional part of the primitive/reptile brain or the emotional brain?” These distinctions about the brain – fight or flight response, primitive/reptile brain, emotional brain – are used a lot these days, but they’re inherently fuzzy. The amygdala (as you know, there are two of them, one on each

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