Believe it or not, five years ago starting a blog called Mindfulness and Psychotherapy seemed like a risky venture. At the time, some people I mentioned it to said, “Well, there are a whole lot of blogs that come and go within a year.” The integration of mindfulness, compassion and neuroscience as a therapy in our daily lives has now become key to millions of people. Through posts and interviews we’ve looked into practical applications for stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, grief, happiness, joy, self-compassion, forgiveness, relationships, business, medicine, technology, politics and so much more.
Since the inception of this blog we’ve seen the publications of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, The Now Effect and Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler. It has been incredibly rewarding to share these years with you and I wanted to thank you all deeply for all your interactions, they have been a source of living wisdom for me and the other readers to benefit from.
Now, here are my Top 10 Favorite Posts from 2013:
It’s no secret that millions and millions of people around the world struggle with their relationship to food. Today I’m excited to bring to you my friend and colleague Dr. Susan Albers, author of her newest book Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence that can be a support to many of us especially with the upcoming holidays. Susan works at the internationally renowned Cleveland Clinic and you may also recognize her from the Dr. Oz TV show, read about her in Shape or Fitness Magazine or have one of her previous books.
Today she talks to us about why emotional intelligence can help us with our eating habits (she cleverly calls this EatQ), how it can help us lose weight and a tip we can start implementing today.
Elisha: Why is EatQ important to you?
There have been a lot of headlines lately about the 6-minute clip of comedian Louis C.K. telling Conan O’Brien why he doesn’t give his kids Smartphones. He thinks they’re toxic, “especially for kids.” He says kids can say “you’re fat” to another kid via text and then don’t see their reaction, they don’t get to build empathy. While this is a worthwhile point for every parent to consider at this time in our culture, his next point was even more impactful and it gets to the heart of what holds us back from experiencing more joy and happiness.
Here’s the clip:
It is my profound honor to bring to you one of the true leaders of our time in respect to the marriage of Eastern and Western Psychology, Jack Kornfield. He stands alongside an esteemed group of elders such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, and Joseph Goldstein in bringing mindfulness to the west. Not only that, he also holds his PhD in clinical Psychology which makes him so relevant to the connection between mindfulness and psychotherapy.
He co-founded Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachussets and is a founding teacher of the well known retreat center Spirit Rock, in Woodacre, Ca. He has taught in Centers and University settings worldwide with teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. He is also author of many widely popular books translated in over 20 languages, including The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, among others.
Today he talks with us about the connection between East and West psychology, his work with Dr. Dan Siegel, and how his own trauma in life has influenced his work with himself and others. He will be speaking with Dan Siegel at the LifeSpan Learning Conference on The Neuroscience of Well-Being, Mindfulness and Love October 5-6th at UCLA
Elisha: You are a well known as a leader in the continuing dialogue of Eastern and Western psychology and are very skillful in how you marry the two. With all of the suffering that many of our readers experience, how do you see each supporting the other and where do you see this dialogue heading in our culture?
When someone is training for a marathon or any regular exertion of physical exercise, any credible trainer would emphasize the importance of resting the body. If you don’t rest the body, the probability goes up for injury. Our brains run in exactly the same way. All day long most of us are doing some sort of mental gymnastics – problem solving, planning for the future, and putting out fires. Just like our bodies, if our mind doesn’t get proper rest (besides good sleep), we are likely to burnout with symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression.
Here are 7 tips to get in the habit of putting your brain to rest:
(Note: If you catch the judgment, I’ve heard of these before, check in to see when the last time you did them was. If it’s been a while, make a plan now).
Ever since mindfulness began spreading its wings in Western culture, there has been the fear that it would be stripped down, diluted and packaged for sale by greedy money-hoarding capitalists just wanting to make their bank accounts fatter. If this happened, inevitably it would just become a passing trend that the public would eventually grow weary of. The most cautionary piece about this was an article published on Huffington Post called Beyond McMindfulness. While the sentiment of commodifying mindfulness into a marketable technique is alive, and worth cautioning against, it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The new holy bible of psychiatric diagnosis is about to go on sale tomorrow. No matter what our conclusions of it are, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is destined to be a best seller as it is the defacto guide to mental illness that most all institutions, physicians, therapists, healthcare providers and educational systems use. But it’s important for us to take a step back once in a while and ask, is this book helping or hindering the field of mental health and in turn, our individual and cultural stigma of mental health?
It’s not often that I interview someone on the mindfulness and psychotherapy blog who has put out a novel. However, Diana Gould has had a long career in film and television and in her practice with mindfulness. She currently teaches at InsightLA in Santa Monica, California and has recently released her first novel Coldwater. She has also put out a special Coldwater Challenge contest: Find the Mindfulness! Nestled within the pages of this noir thriller are little nuggets of mindfulness teachings. How many can you find? Make a list, give your reasons, and submit to email@example.com. The winner will receive your choice of a free basics class at InsightLA or a personal consultation with Diana about dharma practice & writing or both!
Today, Diana talks to us about what inspired her to write this novel, how mindfulness integrates into the novel, the themes of destruction and redemption are applicable in our lives, and some thoughts for the times we are suffering.
Elisha: What inspired you to write Coldwater?
You may have read, and you’ve certainly experienced, that our brains are wired with a negative bias. From and evolutionary perspective this is to keep us on the lookout for danger in order to be prepared if it is ever to strike. But when we get a new job, relationship, parenting or many other areas of life, it squashes what could be a joyful and exciting experience. In fact, one of the greatest offenders when it comes to the negativity bias is “doubt,” but there’s a way to reverse the doubting habit and open up to the joy that is already there.
Here’s the practice and I’ll keep it short and sweet so you can take it and begin experimenting with it in your life today:
A research study just came out in the Journal of Neuroscience where scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston used sea snail nerve cells to reverse memory loss. The scientists were able to help the cells compensate for memory loss by retraining them when the nerve cells were primed for optimal learning. Of course they’re hoping this has implications for working with Alzheimer’s, but the implications don’t stop there, it could also support a neuroscience for learning to trust ourselves in times of difficulty.