The animated default network

Some days I think I must live in the golden age of teaching, because I am spoiled for choice in most of my demonstrations. Pop over to YouTube, enter a few search terms, and find an incredible assortment of possible videos to show, many of which have surprisingly high production values. My most recent find…

Obstacles to meditation in the college classroom

Imagine, if you will, this scene: just under two dozen first-year college students have, somehow, dragged themselves out of bed at the near-crack of dawn, eschewed changing out of nightclothes in favor of shoving bare feet into flip flops or possible Uggs, and slouched into a third-story classroom. They rest their heads on their tables…

To Wake, Perchance to Remember (Your Dreams)

My morning coffee is often accompanied by a series of text messages from my sister relaying her latest bizarre dream. The latest installments the Annals of Sisterly Nighttime Hallucinations have featured piano sheet music composed by threading different colors of cross-stitch floss, a dryad guilt-tripping her for standing on rotten acorns, being left to be…

Mindful Habits Tame the Amygdala

The first good news of the week: my refusal to walk while texting doesn’t just mean I am saved from walking into a foundation becoming an embarrassing YouTube sensation, it probably also keeps my amygdala in check. The amygdala is a small structure nestled near the center of your brain that looks – in the…

No Such Thing as a “Bad” Mood

Here’s a puzzle for you: why do we get into bad moods? I don’t mean “why” in the immediate sense, as in the frustrating service call I made to my internet provider or the insensitive comment your significant other just made. I mean “why” in the big picture sense, as in “if we have such…

Accepting Insomnia

Final exam week is upon us, and I can think of no better time to think about insomnia. Much of the sleep deprivation my students are currently experiencing is self-inflicted, of course, as they stay up all night studying or writing papers, and some of it is inevitable as we all drag ourselves out of…

A Mindful Walk Off A Plank

My reptilian hindbrain got a workout on Sunday, enjoying a rare chance to overrule my more evolved and usually-in-control prefrontal cortex. In the name of Psi Chi bonding, I was prepared to jump off a wood plank 30 feet in the air, for the amusement of a dozen students. It didn’t matter how much I…

Too much chocolate: Why we gather more than we need

Every week or so I encounter the story of another person who has “escaped the rat race”, or stepped outside the cultural expectations of McMansion, sports car, and other conspicuous consumption. The latest is Mr. Money Moustache, who has made headlines for retiring at 30, from an everyday kind of job. These pioneers often have…

Mindfulness Over Matter: MBSR Gets to Your Genes

No, we are not venturing into a science fiction story where the power of the mind can re-write your DNA. The thing to remember is that genes don’t just sit there, they express themselves – they turn on and off to create proteins, such a C-reactive protein, which contributes to stress and depression. If we…

More Mindfulness in Progress: Alcohol Abuse and Texting

I spent the first weekend of March escorting a dozen Psi Chi students to the annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association. A pleasant surprise awaited me: Wandering around an early poster session presenting applied research of various stripes, I encountered several posters presenting mindfulness-related research in progress. First, there was very intriguing research on…