Science of the Spirit

People 2

Jon Kabat-Zinn: 'McMindfulness is no panacea'

© Alamy
‘Some worry that a sort of ‘McMindfulness’ is taking over which ignores the foundations of the meditative practices from which mindfulness emerged.’
Britain's robust cross-party parliamentary report on the benefits of mindfulness is a model to legislators across the developed world: this 'way of being' is no quick fix.

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.

Comment: The shadow side of the McMindfulness craze

People 2

How imagining death can help us live more fully

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" - Hunter S. Thompson

Steve Jobs once asked the question: "If today were the last day of your life, would you want to spend it the way that you're about to?"

If you sit in a quiet place and think deeply about this question, it becomes scary, yet liberating. Scary because one day everything we love and everything we've become attached to will cease to exist through our eyes. Liberating because realizing this fact motivates us to contemplate how we walk in our daily lives.

Comment: Read Gabor Maté's When the Body Says No, for a thorough understanding on the societal and familial programming that prevents us from living authentic lives, and how we can learn to be true to ourselves and the people close to our hearts.

Magic Hat

The anesthetization of humanity

Humanity's been carefully anesthetized.

Things are moving so fast and crazy and in so many weird directions it's tantamount to mass insanity going on. Yet most don't even notice, and that's the weirdest thing of all. That polarization is what compounds the problem, and that's why the cryptos love to try to continue to confuse and divide us in every way they can.

Hence the growing divide between the awakened and anesthetized.

It's coming down to those who dare wake up to reality vs. those who continue on within the projected mindframe. All have a chance to wake up, but not all will take the challenge and opportunity.

Such is the nature of the Universe apparently. This ongoing contest seems to be the playing field into which we have been planted, and it is each of our choices individually that will make up any sort of outcome.

All will be eventually resolved, but at what cost? Where and in what lies our response-ability?



Stories that define us & letting go

© Beth Scupham/flickr
Your story is not who you are. Addiction, Love, Pain: They're merely parts of who you are, not the whole picture.

Author and mystic Caroline Myss created a word that I love: woundology. It describes the way in which some people define themselves by their emotional, physical, and social wounds. It's so easy to suffer from woundology because when we face our pain, becoming intimate with the many ways in which it manifests (both internally and externally, from heartbreak to drug consumption, depression to excessive shopping), we can empower ourselves. Perhaps it's the first time in our lives when we're acknowledging and conquering a fear that's kept the deepest potential of our well-being—the experience of true joy, peace, and equanimity—just out of reach.

Comment: Writing your way to happiness by editing your personal narratives
Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn't get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.


Prevent disease & prolong your life with conscious breathing

Breathing is an unconscious yet ever so vital part of daily life. Very few of us take the time to consider our own breathing patterns. Even physicians in allopathic medicine, me included, pay little attention to respiratory rate unless it is affecting our pH levels or mental status.

Our respiratory rate is determined by how many breaths we take in one minute. Increasing our respiratory rates is a natural response to stress and anxiety. This increases our oxygen while decreasing carbon dioxide in preparation for an emergency escape from something like a wild animal, per se.

Comment: Learn more about the importance of breathing and meditation exercises to relieve physical, mental and emotional stress check out the Éiriú Eolas Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website and give it a try!


Do testosterone levels predict father's parenting?

As they age, men often get concerned about their testosterone levels dropping. And rightfully so, as it affects their sex drive and other health factors.

But the hormone decline can also provide a window into men's parenting.

A new University of Michigan study found that when men saw their infants in distress, it lowered their testosterone. That factor, as well as being empathetic and having a loving relationship with the infant's mother, predicted whether they were nurturing fathers.

Sensitive and responsive fathering has been linked to young children's social, emotional and cognitive development. Studies have shown that positive father involvement usually leads to positive child outcomes.

Comment: See also: Fathers who sleep closer to children have lower testosterone levels


Social connections and bonding: Everything we think we know about addiction is wrong

What causes addiction? Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.

Comment: Listen to the SOTT editors discuss the nature and mechanics of addiction along with real solutions: The Health and Wellness Show - Addictive behaviors
See also:

Magic Wand

Dream-enhancing with wild herbs

Do you remember what you dreamt about last night? How about the night before?

For thousands of years, we humans have placed a ton of value on the content of these bedtime reveries, deriving inner wisdom and even premonitions from them. Dreaming feels like a birthright, an extra sense that allows us to process both rationally and spiritually while our body rests up.

They are one of behavioral science's biggest mysteries, with no agreed-upon theory of their origin and specific purpose. For some, dreams occur nightly, but others never experience them at all.

One thing is for sure - many who don't dream wish they did.

Comment: Study confirms dreams occur even if they aren't remembered
In general, adults recall 1 to 3 dreams per week on average. If they are awakened right after the REM stage of sleep, in which most dreaming occurs, they can remember their dreams up to 90 percent of the time. Studies suggest that some people are more likely to recall their dreams than others (including women, those who are open-minded and sensitive, and people who have the ability to become highly absorbed in an imagined or aesthetic experience). But some people go years without remembering any dreams, and a few have no recollection of ever dreaming.


Sing rather than talk to babies to keep them calm

© Medical News Today
Researchers found singing to babies kept them calm twice as long as talking to them, regardless of whether they used baby talk.
When an infant shows signs of distress, a parent's first instinct may be to engage in baby talk in an attempt to calm them down. But according to a new study, singing may be a much more effective strategy.

Published in the journal Infancy, the study found that when infants listened to music, they remained calm for significantly longer than when they listened to speech - even when the speech was baby talk.

It is well established that music can have a strong impact on us physically and emotionally. When listening to a song, we often nod our head or tap along to the beat - behaviors researchers say display our "entrainment" by music.

But study co-author Prof. Isabelle Peretz, of the Center for Research on Brain, Music and Language at the University of Montreal in Canada, notes that infants do not usually demonstrate such behaviors when listening to music, "either because they lack the requisite physical or mental ability."


Ice-breaker effect: Singing can get groups of people to bond quickly

Psychologists compared the development of relationships between strangers joining singing groups to other adult education classes Getty Images
We have long known the power of a good sing-along. Now, research from the University of Oxford has shown that singing is a great ice-breaker and can get groups of people to bond together more quickly than other activities can.

The new study, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, looked at how people attending adult education classes grew closer over seven months. The conclusion - singing groups bonded more quickly than creative writing or craft classes.

Dr Eiluned Pearce, from Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology led the research. She said: "One of the key differences between humans and other primates is that we can exist in much larger social groups. Singing is found in all human societies and can be performed to some extent by the vast majority of people. It's been suggested that singing is one of the ways in which we build social cohesion when there isn't enough time to establish one-to-one connections between everyone in a group.

"We wanted to explore whether there was something special about singing as a bonding behaviour or whether any group activity would build bonds between members."

Comment: Studies have shown that group singing has calming benefits and that singing can also improve cognitive function.