From contemplative practices, to neuroscience, to business, to leadership, here are some tidbits I’ve selected for the day to let us think about a deeply permeating quality of human existence.🙂
1. “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
– Dr. Daniel Goleman
2. “We can intentionally shape the direction of plasticity changes in our brain. By focusing on wholesome thoughts, for example, and directing our intentions in those ways, we can potentially influence the plasticity of our brains and shape them in ways that can be beneficial. That leads us to the inevitable conclusion that qualities like warm-heartedness and well-being should best be regarded as skills.”
– MLI Board Member Richard Davidson
3. “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”
4. “Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation…even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”
-Leonardo da Vinci
5. How does the brain actually learn? Here’s a video + many more resources!
6. On finding noble leadership:
“The positive side of these crises is the high quality of leaders who have emerged. From these debacles today’s leaders learned what not to do. They saw many of their predecessors get caught in the trap of chasing money, fame and power, and learned the perils of putting self-interest ahead of the institutions they served.”
– Bill George is senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former chair & CEO of Medtronic. He is the author of four best-selling books, including True North. His new book, Discover Your True North, will be available in late August, 2015.”
Here’s the link to the full article:
7. “What is the difference between empathy and compassion? Is it possible to train compassion? Can it be measured? How useful is compassion training in schools, clinical settings, and end-of-life care? Can the brain be transformed through mental training?”
Tania Singer is the Director of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. I saw her present research on the hormonal and neural mechanisms underlying meditation and social behavior at the International Symposium for Contemplative Studies, this past October. Very inspiring. She is well published on Pubmed for her work.
8. Also at ISCS 2014, I attended a few lectures by Elissa Epel PhD, who is an Associate Professor in the Dept of Psychiatry at USCF. I really liked her research integrating how stress, anxiety, and different coping mechanisms, can influence cellular aging and lead to either progressive or regressive mood states.
Here are some cool PubMed articles:
Needham BL, Rehkopf D, Adler N, Gregorich S, Lin J, Blackburn EH, Epel ES. Leukocyte telomere length and mortality in the national health and nutrition examination survey, 1999-2002. Epidemiology. 2015 Jul; 26(4):528-35.
Verhoeven JE, Révész D, van Oppen P, Epel ES, Wolkowitz OM, Penninx BW. Anxiety disorders and accelerated cellular ageing. Br J Psychiatry. 2015 May; 206(5):371-8.
9. “If as spiritual practitioners we ignore the discoveries of science, our practice is also impoverished, as this mind-set can lead to fundamentalism.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
10. And one last big hunk of words..
“With the end of the Cold War, the threat of global nuclear destruction has receded, but many continue to endure the sufferings and tragedy of armed conflict. In many areas, too, people are having to deal with environmental problems and, with these, threats to their livelihood and worse. At the same time, many others are struggling to get by in the face of inequality, corruption and injustice.
These problems are not limited to the developing world. In the richer countries, too, there are many difficulties, including widespread social problems: alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, family breakdown. People are worried about their children, about their education and what the world holds in store for them. Now, too, we have to recognize the possibility that human activity is damaging our planet beyond a point of no return, a threat which creates further fear. And all the pressures of modern life bring with them stress, anxiety, depression, and, increasingly, loneliness. As a result, everywhere I go, people are complaining. Even I find myself complaining from time to time!
It is clear that something is seriously lacking in the way we humans are going about things. But what is it that we lack? The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.
By inner values I mean the qualities that we all appreciate in others, and toward which we all have a natural instinct, bequeathed by our biological nature as animals that survive and thrive only in an environment of concern, affection and warmheartedness — or in a single word, compassion. The essence of compassion is a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
Much thanks to the Mind and Life Institute for flooding me with a lot of these great quotes and links! Look for them on Facebook!