Change Your Mind Change Your Brain
January 31, 2010 3:45 AM   Subscribe

Change your mind, change your brain - Matthieu Ricard talks about creating the inner conditions for authentic happiness, and the effects of meditation on the brain.

A little more in-depth meditation science: Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation.

Want to learn how? Get started right now with a workshop by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Use the classic text, Mindfulness in Plain English. Or maybe learn from Alan Watts.
posted by MetaMonkey (17 comments total) 138 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for the post. I might buy his book now.
posted by diwolf at 5:07 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love Alan Watts. Two minutes in, I can't decide if their jolliness is admirable or irritating. Call me old fashioned, but I like my talks dry and complicated.
posted by deticxe at 6:07 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is Jon Kabat-Zinn better than Cats? Because I see him linked from here again and again.
posted by pracowity at 6:13 AM on January 31, 2010

Short course: be aware of being aware.
posted by wadefranklin at 6:36 AM on January 31, 2010

Must you be bald to be a monk?
posted by Postroad at 6:43 AM on January 31, 2010

Kabat-Zinn's co-authored book on stress management is pretty great. Also see the classic Living the Full Catastrophe, where applying meditation to chronic pain and PTSD is discussed, among other things.
posted by mecran01 at 6:47 AM on January 31, 2010

I've just been dipping my toes into meditation and mindfulness. Thank you for sharing this.
posted by bunnycup at 7:06 AM on January 31, 2010

His division between outerword (outer conditions) and inner world (inner conditions) seems somewhat strained and artificial. (In philosophical terms, it might be characterized as a duality that was accepted by Western thinkers before Heidegger's "Being and Time.") But I'm guessing that he's presenting his argument around these terms as a conscious tool to help his audience wrap their minds around several concepts in Tibetan Buddhism.

Here's a shorter, slightly more succinct talk that covers much of the same content.
posted by Gordion Knott at 7:19 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nth on the thank you. I'm enjoying reading Mindfulness in Plain English.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:42 AM on January 31, 2010

Wow, Ricard's talk was excellent. It looks like he was also at TED. Thanks for this!
posted by pilibeen at 9:04 AM on January 31, 2010

It's interesting, I've actually been trying to get back into Vipassana meditation guided by Mindfulness in Plain English. Not that I have any ideological commitment to Buddhism, although I think it has some interesting ideas, but because I want to get through some stress and generally like the idea of being mindful. Sometimes I feel like this comic strip is entirely too true of modern life and I want to be more able to enjoy being in the moment, which is really what Vipassana is about.

Having read some books by Tibetan Buddhists, I have to say I really don't care for that branch and am not into the video in the main link. Theravada and Zen, the traditions that have the least emphasis on the reincarnation / mystical aspects of Buddhism, seem to have more to offer from where I sit.
posted by graymouser at 9:11 AM on January 31, 2010

Just a personal note, my experience may be helpful for those contemplating a less casual approach to meditation: I was able to "break through," meaning, experience meditation with genuine altered states of consciousness (My goal.) by spending a great deal of time separated from family and friends and living in a slum (which allowed for very inexpensive living). After trial and error, failure after failure, it took everything I had, spending a great deal of time searching, researching, reading and rereading, delving into as much abstract thought as I could to do this. For those with a flexible lifestyle I wholeheartedly recommend this plan or some facsimile thereof. Since this happened it's been like feeding off of something inside as opposed to outside.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:45 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks I really enjoyed this. Also liked the poem that he closes the talk with, and I will share it here to save anyone interested a google ads infested version (ironically enough, thanks to google for the Jon Kabat-Zinn talk, but anyway, here it is, by Derek Walcott:)

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
posted by lonelid at 12:42 PM on January 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

For anyone with curiosity about meditation, I highly recommend the many resources offered by the Insight Meditation Center, a sangha in Redwood City, CA, whose leader, Gil Fronsdal, is the wisest of the many Buddhist teachers I have encountered in person. His intro meditation classes and in fact all of his talks are available free - check out the Recommended Talks section as well as the other offerings in the Audio Dharma section.
posted by twsf at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

Meditation is just one puzzle piece. It's not a panacea, and it doesn't address perspective, beliefs, or meaning-making, the examination of which all have a much quicker return on investment. Check this out:

P.S. I meditate.
posted by zeek321 at 3:16 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

"enjoy being in the moment"

That. And the fun part is that's easy or hard depending where you are. Like a game where the levels get harder. In a park. Walking down the sidewalk. Walking down a busy hectic street. Standing in a queue. Contemplating death. Looking at photos of a disaster.

Harsh words? just a wind in your ears. Worry about all changing, all coming, all going? What a laugh!

Sun Ra, in 'Space is the Place'
posted by Twang at 4:08 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have looked at this book several times myself and watched the PBS specials when they run. Years before it came out I was fortunate enough to take a meditation workshop that noted many of the same benefits that are now backed up by science.
posted by JohnBerry at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2010

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