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Meat Is the New Tobacco

Meat Is the New Tobacco | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

When I think about the effect of animal products on human health, I'm reminded of how quickly we've done a national about face on tobacco, and I look forward to the day when we have a similar apology from someone who promoted animal products.

 

The West's three biggest killers -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- are linked to excessive animal product consumption, and vegetarians have much lower risks of all three. Vegetarians also have a fraction of the obesity and diabetes rates of the general population -- of course, both diseases are at epidemic levels and are only getting worse.

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Thanksgiving and Gratitude: The Science of Happier Holidays

Thanksgiving and Gratitude: The Science of Happier Holidays | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

As the holiday shopping season moves into high gear, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of spending. But consider this conclusion from recent scientific research: Materialistic people are less happy than their peers. They experience fewer positive emotions, are less satisfied with life and suffer higher levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

 

Why is this the case—and how can we avoid falling into the unhappiness trap of materialism this holiday season?

One answer has been emerging from social science: Cultivate a mind-set of gratitude. Gratitude is proving to be about much more than the occasional “thank you.” Instead, the principles of Thanksgiving give rise to a unique way of seeing the world.

 

The latest evidence suggests that, rather than simply being about good manners, the emotion of gratitude might have deep roots in humans’ evolutionary history, sustaining the social bonds that are key not only to our happiness but also to our survival as a species.

 

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Many older brains have plasticity, but in a different place

Many older brains have plasticity, but in a different place | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Brain scientists have long believed that older people have less of the neural flexibility (plasticity) required to learn new things. A new study shows that older people learned a visual task just as well as younger ones, but the seniors who showed a strong degree of learning exhibited plasticity in a different part of the brain than younger learners did.

 

When many older subjects learned a new visual task, the researchers found, they unexpectedly showed a significantly associated change in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the the brain’s “wiring,” or axons, sheathed in a material called myelin that can make transmission of signals more efficient. Younger learners, meanwhile, showed plasticity in the cortex, where neuroscientists expected to see it.

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Curiosity: It Helps Us Learn, But Why?

Curiosity: It Helps Us Learn, But Why? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
New research suggests that curiosity triggers chemical changes in the brain that help us better understand and retain information.

 

What, exactly, is curiosity and how does it work? A study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron suggests that the brain's chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information.

 

"There's this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding," Ranganath explains. This circuit lights up when we get money, or candy. It also lights up when we're curious.

 

When the circuit is activated, our brains release a chemical called dopamine, which gives us a high. "The dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between cells that are involved in learning."

 

Indeed, when the researchers later tested participants on what they learned, those who were more curious were more likely to remember the right answers.

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Laura Hansen's curator insight, October 30, 11:14 AM

Creating a culture within your organization where curiosity is rewarded improves morale, inspires innovative problem-solving, reduces errors, and helps leaders and their teams have meaningful work relationships.


Building curiosity-centric exercises and staff development trainings is a great next step.


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Why Saying Is Believing — The Science Of Self-Talk

Why Saying Is Believing — The Science Of Self-Talk | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Self-help videos tell women to learn to love their bodies by saying nice things to themselves in the mirror. Can shushing your harshest critic actually rewire the brain?

 

David Sarwer is a psychologist and clinical director at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania. He says that, in fact, a mirror is one of the first tools he uses with some new patients. He stands them in front of a mirror and coaches them to use gentler, more neutral language as they evaluate their bodies.

 

"Instead of saying, 'My abdomen is disgusting and grotesque,' " Sarwer explains, he'll prompt a patient to say, " 'My abdomen is round, my abdomen is big; it's bigger than I'd like it to be.' "

 

The goal, he says, is to remove "negative and pejorative terms" from the patient's self-talk. The underlying notion is that it's not enough for a patient to lose physical weight — or gain it, as some women need to — if she doesn't also change the way her body looks in her mind's eye.

 

This may sound weird. You're either a size 4 or a size 8, right? Not mentally, apparently.

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Finding Happiness by Cultivating Positive Emotions

Finding Happiness by Cultivating Positive Emotions | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

When people increase their daily diets of positive emotions, they find more meaning and purpose in life. They also find that they receive more social support—or perhaps they just notice it more, because they’re more attuned to the give-and-take between people. They report fewer aches and pains, headaches, and other physical symptoms. They show mindful awareness of the present moment and increased positive relations with others. They feel more effective at what they do. They’re better able to savor the good things in life and can see more possible solutions to problems. And they sleep better.

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Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on writing to heal for years at the University of Texas at Austin. "When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health," Pennebaker writes. "They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function." 

 

Why? Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.

 

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

This is why I'm a big proponent of journaling. I suggest it to everyone, and have journaled myself for many years. It's the time alone with one's inner realm that counts. It makes for interesting and revealing reading later on, and makes use of our ability to self-reflect in the best way. We must communicate with ourselves!

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The Mental and Emotional Benefits of Dancing

The Mental and Emotional Benefits of Dancing | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

While you may be aware of the physical benefits of dancing, perhaps you didn’t know that it has an even more beneficial effect on your brain.

 

We have been dancing since prehistoric times, as a form of expression, celebration, or ritual. Dancing in a social setting causes the release of endorphins – the chemical in the brain that reduces stress and pain – resulting in a feeling of well being similar to what is known as “runners’ high.”

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You Should Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things

You Should Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Anticipation of a new experience is the best part, new data shows.

 

All of the studies indicated that anticipation of an experience is more exciting and pleasant than the anticipation of a material purchase — regardless of the price of the purchase.


One reason the research is important to society is that it “suggests that overall well-being can be advanced by providing an infrastructure that affords experiences—such as parks, trails, beaches—as much as it does material consumption."

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The New Habit Challenge: Take Daily Walking Breaks To Refocus

The New Habit Challenge: Take Daily Walking Breaks To Refocus | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

If you want to boost your productivity, focus, creativity, or sanity, you need to leave your desk and take a walk.

 

Research published in Diabetologia medical journal shows that the average adult spends 50% to 70% of his time sitting. Today we live in a world where most working professionals suffer from what the scientific community calls the sitting disease, and research shows that the longer you sit, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

 

In addition to staying healthy, there are so many other good reasons to get up and move around that this advice is hard to ignore.

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4 Ways To Retrain Your Brain To Handle Information Overload

4 Ways To Retrain Your Brain To Handle Information Overload | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of the upcoming book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, says information overload creates daily challenges for our brains, causing us to feel mentally exhausted before the day's end.

 

“Our brains are equipped to deal with the world the way it was many thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers," says Levitin. "Back then the amount of information that was coming at us was much less and it came at us much more slowly.”

 

The pace at which we’re exposed to information today is overwhelming to our brains, which haven’t adapted fast enough to easily separate relevant data from the irrelevant at the speed we’re asking it to. As a result, our brains become easily fatigued, and we become more forgetful. By using principles of neuroscience, Levitin says we can regain control over our brains by organizing information in a way that optimizes our brain’s capacity.

 

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Talent vs. Practice: Why Are We Still Debating This?

Talent vs. Practice: Why Are We Still Debating This? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
The development of high achievement involves a complex interaction of many personal and environmental variables that feed off each other in non-linear, mutually reinforcing, and nuanced ways.
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Unpacking the Science: How Playing Music Changes the Learning Brain

Unpacking the Science: How Playing Music Changes the Learning Brain | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Researchers in the fairly new field of music neuroscience are finding that kids who learn to play a musical instrument also develop important skills related to literacy, math and mental focus.

 

Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of “Music, Language, and the Brain,” says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny.

 

“On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

 

Patel says this is a relatively new field of scientific study.

“The whole field of music neuroscience really began to take off around 2000,” he says. “These studies where we take people, often children, and give them training in music and then measure how their cognition changes and how their brain changes both in terms of its processing [and] its structure, are very few and still just emerging.”

 

Patel says that music neuroscience, which draws on cognitive science, music education and neuroscience, can help answer basic questions about the workings of the human brain.

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Deb Bailey's curator insight, July 25, 3:05 PM

I always listen to music when writing. It helps me to create and to stay focused.

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20 Minutes of Yoga Stimulates Brain Function Immediately After

20 Minutes of Yoga Stimulates Brain Function Immediately After | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Researchers report that a single, 20-minute session of Hatha yoga significantly improved participants’ speed and accuracy on tests of working memory and inhibitory control, two measures of brain function associated with the ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information. Participants performed significantly better immediately after the yoga practice than after moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time.

 

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4 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude in Children

4 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude in Children | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Someone once said it’s not what kind of world we’re leaving for our children, but what kind of children we’re leaving for our world. Kindness and a sense of gratitude are core values that we need to help encourage in children. 

 

Studies have shown that children who cultivate gratitude in their lives have better social relationships and do better in school. Being grateful actually contributes to our overall sense of well-being and helps increase our happiness. But, as any parent of a young child knows – especially during the holidays – encouraging gratitude in the midst of pressure for expensive or numerous gifts can be challenging.

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Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, December 2, 2:00 PM

Gratitude can be part of our daily conversations and what we experience each day in living.

 

@ivon_ehd1

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Why Walking Helps Us Think

Why Walking Helps Us Think | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Since at least the time of Greek philosophers, many writers have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking, thinking, and writing.

 

When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

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Train Your Brain To Feel More Compassion

Train Your Brain To Feel More Compassion | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Scientific evidence shows that we can teach our brains to feel more compassion, both for others and ourselves. Many of us know that if we want to become more physically healthy, we can exercise. What if we want to improve our emotional health? Are there ways to train emotional “muscles” such as compassion? Would such training improve our lives?

Compassion meditation is an ancient contemplative practice to strengthen feelings of compassion towards different kinds of people. The feeling of compassion itself is the emotional response of caring and wanting to help when encountering a person’s suffering.

 

In a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, after only two weeks of online training, participants who practiced compassion meditation every day behaved more altruistically towards strangers compared to another group taught to simply regulate or control their negative emotions. Not only that, the people who were the most altruistic after receiving compassion training also were the individuals who showed the largest changes in how their brains responded to images of suffering. These findings suggest that compassion is a trainable skill, and that practice can actually alter the way our brains perceive suffering and increase our actions to relieve that suffering.

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Laura Hansen's curator insight, October 21, 7:13 PM

Why is this so? My two cents from the "consciousness, we are nodes in a network being" perspective:


1. Awareness is Everything. When we direct our attention inward we can become aware of the universal frequency that flows through all life. Touching this frequency with our awareness immediately manifests it mentally, emotionally and physically as a deep knowing that we are of one self.


2. Universal Self Runs More of the Show. Touching this universal frequency manifests as the decision-making consciousness we use and identify with. Which means we make fewer decisions based upon one person's need only at the expense of another.

Ipnotica's curator insight, October 22, 6:19 PM

Compassion - could it be the most valuable "skill" to have?

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Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?

Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Kids read emotions better after spending several days without electronic media, according to new research.

 

The UCLA researchers studied two groups of sixth-graders from a Southern California public school. One group was sent to the Pali Institute, an outdoor education camp in Running Springs, Calif., where the kids had no access to electronic devices. For the other group, it was life as usual.

 

At the beginning and end of the five-day study period, both groups of kids were shown images of nearly 50 faces and asked to identify the feelings being modeled. Researchers found that the students who went to camp scored significantly higher when it came to reading facial emotions or other nonverbal cues than the students who continued to have access to their media devices.

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Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, October 2, 2:15 PM

A worthwhile read. What are the challenges parents and teachers face as a result? Digital technology is here, but what can we do to help work with it mindfully?

 

@ivon_ehd1

Lon Woodbury's curator insight, October 7, 12:39 AM

As the comments say, there were too many variables so this study is not very reliable.  However, it does seem enough to warrant more and better studies.  -Lon

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The Biology Of Altruism: Good Deeds May Be Rooted In The Brain

The Biology Of Altruism: Good Deeds May Be Rooted In The Brain | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Angela Stimpson donated a kidney to a complete stranger. Why did she do it? Researchers found that the brains of Stimpson and other altruists are sensitive to fear and distress in a stranger's face.

 

People like Stimpson are "extraordinary altruists," according to Abigail Marsh. She's an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University and one of the country's leading researchers into altruism.

 

Marsh wanted to know more about this type of extraordinary altruism, so she decided to study the brains of people who had donated a kidney to a stranger.

 

The amygdala was significantly larger in the altruists compared to those who had never donated an organ. Additionally, the amygdala in the altruists was extremely sensitive to the pictures of people displaying fear or distress.

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Music Helps Kids' Brains Process Language

Music Helps Kids' Brains Process Language | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Musical training doesn't just improve your ear for music — it also helps your ear for speech. That's the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids' brains process language.

 

The brain depends on neurons. Whenever we take in new information — through our ears, eyes or skin — those neurons talk to each other by firing off electrical pulses. We call these brainwaves. With scalp electrodes, Kraus and her team can both see and hear these brainwaves.

 

Using some relatively new, expensive and complicated technology, Kraus can also break these brainwaves down into their component parts — to better understand how kids process not only music but speech, too. That's because the two aren't that different. They have three common denominators — pitch, timing and timbre — and the brain uses the same circuitry to make sense of them all.

 

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How To Live In The Moment And Get Work Done At The Same Time

How To Live In The Moment And Get Work Done At The Same Time | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Clearing your mind and living in the moment isn't about putting productivity on hold. You can be more profitable with less brain clutter.

 

A stretched-thin, stressed-out workplace is not the workplace of the future. It falls on business managers to change this culture and promote focus and compassion--a concept making the rounds in workplace circles known as “mindfulness.” This is the technique of tuning out the noise and focusing deliberately on what is important.

 

Studies have found that mindfulness at work can increase engagement, productivity, innovation, and measurable business results.

 

Focus, well-being, happiness, and compassion are skills that complement executive behaviors and can be learned, practiced, and mastered.

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How To Rewire Your Brain For Greater Happiness

How To Rewire Your Brain For Greater Happiness | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could hack into our own brains and rewire them to be happier?

 

Science has shown we actually can thanks to a phenomenon called experience-dependent neuroplasticity. "It’s a fancy term to say the brain learns from our experiences," says Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and author of the book Hardwiring Happiness. "As we understand better and better how this brain works, it gives us more power to change our mind for the better."

 

Understanding how our brains function can help us better control them.

 

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Is Effective Leadership Simply A Matter Of Combining The Gender Stereotypes?

Is Effective Leadership Simply A Matter Of Combining The Gender Stereotypes? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Grounded leaders are able to do away with traditional leadership stereotypes based in gender roles.

 

Sure, there are differences between men and women. But I would argue that not all men exhibit what we’ve come to acknowledge as male leadership, and not all women exhibit what we’ve come to see as female leadership.

 

A whole new group of strong, competitive, and powerful women, and evolved, collaborative, and humane men walk the hallways of organizations every day across industries, sectors, and countries. And they come from every generation.

 

If we look back 20 years and reflect on the evolution of both men and women, we can see that both “male leaders” and “female leaders” had a piece of the solution necessary for today's workplace. Each brought a specific strength and vulnerability to our current understanding of great leadership.ful women, and evolved, collaborative, and humane men walk the hallways of organizations every day across industries, sectors, and countries. And they come from every generation.

 

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The Easy Way to Meditate

The Easy Way to Meditate | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Research says meditation can unlock our most creative ideas -- if sitting still and quiet doesn't stress you out in the first place. Yet the word meditation itself also has a unique power to freak people out.  For some, the thought of sitting still and quiet in a room without even the ping of a Smartphone is enough to ratchet up the stress level and suppress any creative thought other than how to benefit from meditation without actually meditating.


I think it’s because we make too much of it. The first few months I meditated I either hyperventilated, while paying attention to my breath, or obsessed as to whether I was meditating correctly.


I also mentally thumbed through my day planner thinking of the stuff I should have been doing. But eventually,  I realized meditation actually made me more productive and less of a worry wart.


And, like the studies suggest, I’ve rarely meditated without having some grand idea or solution emerge after the fact. We have so much background noise in our daily routine that it’s nearly impossible to notice the new and innovative ideas we have in the first place. 

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Want Happiness? Science Says You Should Stop Looking for It

Want Happiness? Science Says You Should Stop Looking for It | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

What if searching for happiness actually prevents us from finding it? There’s reason to believe that the quest for happiness might be a recipe for misery.

 

In a series of new studies led by the psychologist Iris Mauss, the more value people placed on happiness, the less happy they became.

 

When we want to be happy, we look for strong positive emotions like joy, elation, enthusiasm, and excitement. Unfortunately, research shows that this isn’t the best path to happiness. Research led by the psychologist Ed Diener reveals that happiness is driven by the frequency, not the intensity, of positive emotions. When we aim for intense positive emotions, we evaluate our experiences against a higher standard, which makes it easier to be disappointed.

 

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Rewiring Your Emotions

Rewiring Your Emotions | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

"Meditation gives you the wherewithal to pause, observe how easily the mind can exaggerate the severity of a setback, note that it as an interesting mental process, and resist getting drawn into the abyss."

 

— Richard Davidson

 

The brain’s emotional circuits are actually connected to its thinking circuits, which are much more accessible to our conscious volition. That has been one of Davidson’s most important discoveries: the “cognitive brain” is also the “emotional brain.” As a result, activity in certain cognitive regions sends signals to the emotion-generating regions. So while you can’t just order yourself to have a particular feeling, you can sort of sneak up on your emotions via your thoughts.

 

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