Pay Attention

Is your mind wandering? The Practice: Pay attention. Why? Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: Is it for

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Using Imagery to Change Your Brain

Q: Is there any evidence that just reading the words which describe an experience will bring activity to the corresponding part of the brain? A: There is a lot of fMRI research in which the prompt to the subject in the scanner is reading a text. Many of the texts used are emotion words or

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Empathy and Brain Plasticity

In this interview with Ruth Buczynski, PhD, I talk about the evolution of the brain and the development and neuroscience of empathy.

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Modern Science Meets Ancient Wisdom

In the 21st century, modern brain science and ancient contemplative wisdom are illuminating each other. Besides being fascinating in its own right, this cross-fertilization and growing integration spotlights increasingly effective ways for using your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being – and those you touch. The Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom,

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Give No One Cause to Fear You

What puts people at ease? The Practice: Give no one cause to fear you. Why? We evolved to be afraid. The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them – predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind – did not pass on their genes. But the ones [Read More...]

Hug the Monkey

Longing for love? The Practice: Hug the monkey. Why? Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process): Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” The first JOT in this series – pet the lizard – was [Read More...]

Feed The Mouse

Got cheese? The Practice: Feed the mouse. Why? As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages: Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its [Read More...]

Empty The Cup

Are you full to the rim? The Practice: Empty the cup. Why? Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began [Read More...]

Remember The Big Things

What matters most to you? The Practice: Remember the big things. Why? In every life, reminders arrive about what’s really important. I’ve recently received one myself, in a form that’s already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up [Read More...]

Rest

Busy, busy? The Practice: Rest. Why? This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I’ve been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it’s filling with new tasks.) Sometimes you [Read More...]


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