Be mindful, forgive a political opponent

As a cognitive psychologist, I am naturally drawn to the potential beneficial impacts of mindfulness on the mind and brain: The possibility of fostering better attention, of improving children’s self-regulation, of wiring the brain in more sensible ways than the barrage of Internet and smartphone chatter will. But in the political mayhem of election season,…

Counting breaths to measure mindfulness

One of the greatest challenges to the scientific study of mindfulness is finding a way to objectively measure how mindful someone is. Only with a clear, unbiased measure we can we feel confident in when and why a person’s mindfulness changes, and what greater levels of mindfulness can mean for us. But mindfulness is a…

The Mechanics of Mindful Improvements

Every now and then, just when I start to get comfortable thinking I understand how something works, some new evidence or theory is presented that makes me call into question the things that I thought I knew. After years of following the latest developments in contemplative science, I thought I had a handle on how…

One Meditation Session to Let the Past Go

Here’s a conundrum I’ve encountered on quite a few trips to nice restaurants: I anticipate a delicious meal, followed by some wonderful chocolate-and-ice-cream concoction I could never possibly make at home. The meal is in fact delicious, so much so that I eat quite a bit of it. My dessert arrives, and is also delicious…but…

Many ways to be mindful

Not long ago I started thinking about the possibility that different types of meditation might lead to different benefits – loving kindness might contribute to social connections and empathy, perhaps, while a body scan might provide some specific health benefits by helping people get in tune with their bodies. The logical next step is to…

Who benefits from mindfulness?

The assumption of every magazine or scientific article I’ve read on the benefits of mindful meditation seems to be that a little mindfulness training would be good for absolutely everyone. But are we right to assume that everyone walks away with the same benefits from a mindfulness intervention? The most compelling evidence for the advantages…

One fortnight to change your mind?

Mindfulness has permeated the popular consciousness, with an emphasis on what it can d for you (lose weight! cure depression! be a better leader! and more!). Like exercise, mindfulness meditation is becoming a potential cure-all and everyone wants the results…without the long hard slog of practicing every day. We are starting to see the meditation…

Mindfully balancing work and life

The buzzword of modern America seems to be “work-life balance”. While some have stepped forward to say that we’re thinking about the relationship between work and life all wrong, they are still a minority whose voices are drowned out by the thunderous advice from the news media, therapists, and even some employers about how we…