Category Archives: Rick Hanson Ph.D.

Join February’s Unconference: Sitting in a circle and talking about what’s really alive for people

by  Susan Kaiser Greenland

kaisergreenlandsusanSusan Kaiser Greenland, JD, Author, Educator, is the developer and co-founder of the Inner Kids mindful awareness program for children, teens and their families. She is author of The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate (Free Press, 2010).

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Have you heard that 2014 will usher in an era of mindful living? It must be true because J. Walter Thompson, a giant advertising agency with considerable qualitative, quantitative and desk research prowess, has identified the top 10 trends for 2014 and mindful living is tenth on the list. What’s more, mindfulness is implicit in several of the top 10 trends. In keeping with this year’s second trend “Do You Speak Visual?” here’s a video teaser:

It’s a funny video and so is characterizing mindfulness as a new trend given its ancient roots in the East and, through Pop icons like Alan Watts, the Beat poets, John Lennon and George Harrison, its decades old roots in the Western zeitgeist. But there’s no denying that mindfulness has become trendy and with popularization insiders are both happy and concerned. If you’re curious about the positive aspects of the growing mindfulness movement check out Mindful Magazine published by seasoned veterans in the field and, if you’re interested in insiders’ concerns, read Ron Purser and David Loy’s Huffington Post article Beyond McMindfulness.

The trendiness of mindfulness has created an explosion of interest in sharing it with children, teens and families and not unlike popularization itself, growing interest in kids’ mindfulness has created it’s own set of plusses and minuses. Last year, Amy Saltzman and Steve Hickman reached out to Mark Greenberg and me to ask if we’d join them in hosting a symposium connected with this year’s Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference at UCSD. Together we polled a handful of our colleagues and were especially struck by the following three responses:

* From Chris McKenna with Mindful Schools: “We are looking for issues that are really alive for people and not just theoretical.”

* From Lisa Flook a scientist with The University of Wisconsin, Madison: “How do we engage mindfully (with heartfulness and skillfulness) together and what are mechanisms for explicitly addressing this ongoing group process?”

* From Wynn Kinder with Wellness Works: “ Collaboration and cooperation are messy.”

bridging2014badgeWe went back to the drawing board and the symposium morphed into an Unconference with this Native American adage in mind: “In the circle, we are all equal. When in the circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you”.  Steve carved out a morning for mindfulness veterans, newcomers, and those in-between to sit in a circle and (borrowing from Chris) talk about what’s “really alive for them.” We chose this format with professional group facilitators to ensure the “mindful, heartful and skillful process” that Lisa highlights in her comments above. And, we promise to remember Wynn’s prompt that “collaboration and cooperation are messy”.

Here how the Unconference morning will break down:

* The 1440 Foundation has generously underwritten a significant portion of the event including breakfast starting at 7am.

* We’re honored that Sharon Salzberg will lead a meditation at 8:30am.

* Small, facilitated groups will meet for an hour and a half.

* We’ll conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Mark Greenberg.

Like much of the cutting-edge and field development work that’s happening in the mindfulness world, the Bridging the Hearts and Minds Unconference wouldn’t be possible without a generous grant from the 1440 Foundation.

Veterans slated to join our working circles include Sharon Salzberg from IMS, Mark Greenberg and Christa Turksma from CARE, Jim Gimian and Barry Boyce from Mindful Magazine, Vinny Ferraro and Megan Cowan from Mindful Schools, Lisa Flook from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Randye Semple with USC and UCLA, Lidia Zylowska co-founder UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Wynne Kinder from Wellness Works, Chris Willard who wrote A Child’s Mind, Rona Wilensky, Lesley Grant with Marin Mindfulness, Amy Saltzman from Still Quiet Place, Steve Hickman with UCSD and me.

We hope you’ll join us.

The Unconference will be held on the morning of February 7, 2014.  For more information and to register visit the UCSD website.

Can self-compassion improve through mindfulness?

This post originally appeared on the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM) blog, and is written by Ruth Buczynski, PhD

You shouldn’t kick yourself when you’re down . . .

. . . but sometimes it’s hard not to. Even if we’re compassionate toward others, we can still be our own worst critics. Mindfulness meditation really works. And self-compassion is one of its key benefits.

Kristen Neff, PhD, from the University of Texas-Austin, and Christopher Germer, PhD, from Harvard Medical School, wanted to find out whether self-compassion could be developed through training.

Mindfulness meditation and self-compassionDrs. Neff and Germer randomly assigned 54 people to either an 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program or a waitlist control. The MSC program combined weekly 2-hour meetings with homework and a half-day meditation retreat. The program began with an explanation of what self-compassion is, and incorporated both formal and informal mindfulness practices.

Before the program, participants completed surveys to measure self-compassion, mindfulness, and other internal states. They took the same surveys immediately after the program’s completion, and then 6 months later as a follow-up. And, as it turns out, Dr. Neff and Dr. Germer have good news for people who’d like to develop self-compassion.

After taking the program, participants reported significantly greater gains in self-compassion, along with mindfulness, compassion for others, and life satisfaction when compared with the control group. What’s more, researchers found a large statistical effect size in self-compassion. This is relevant because many previous studies of mindfulness programs have found substantially smaller effect sizes – suggesting that this program might be particularly effective.

Of course, since the research involves only self-report data, we should be cautious about drawing conclusions. When people reply that they’re more compassionate or mindful on a survey, what does that really mean about their mental states? What’s more, this research involves only a waitlist control. That means we can’t be sure what made the difference. People might develop self-compassion just from getting together twice a week. Or maybe doing “mental homework” of any kind helps all sorts of internal states.

So, while I think this is a good foundation, I’d like to see more research that uses objective measures of self-compassion and an active control.

If you’d like to read the whole study, it’s currently in press in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Of course, to see the benefits of self-compassion with your clients, you need to be able to introduce mindfulness effectively. That can be complex, depending on your client, so that’s why we’ve put together our Making Mindfulness Work webinar series. Just click here to sign up for free.

Has mindfulness training ever transformed one of your clients’ capacity for self-compassion? What about your own? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

At the UCSD Center for Mindfulness we offer
two great ways to explore Mindful-Self Compassion

The first is through participating in our 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion Program right here at our UCSD CFM Meditation Room. We are the only center currently teaching the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion program as originated by Drs. Neff and Germer.  The next 8-week MSC program begins in January 2013

The second way to explore self-compassion is by attending our upcoming Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Training Retreat, May 12-17, 2013, at EarthRise Retreat Center in Petaluma, CA with Dr. Chris Germer and Dr. Kristin Neff.

This program is designed for members of the general public, as well as for professionals who wish to integrate self-compassion into their work. Participating in a MSC program satisfies a prerequisite for becoming a MSC program teacher, and teacher training will begin at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness in 2014. A modest, regular meditation practice is required to become a MSC teacher but meditation experience is not necessary to participate in this professional training. All are welcome!

Planting Seeds: The Power of Mindfulness

A film for parents and educators combining comic book animation, documentary footage, and classroom materials.

“Planting Seeds” The Power of Mindfulness, the film’s working title, is based on the book, Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
 and draws from Plum Village’s thirty years of mindfulness and compassion work with children, parents and educators. The film offers tried-and-true meaningful, fun, and engaging activities that kids can do in any setting and either self-guided or led by an adult. Key practices
presented include mindful breathing, mindful walking, inviting the bell, pebble meditation, the Two Promises or ethical guidelines for children, eating meditation, and dealing with conflict and strong emotions.

“Planting Seeds” will be shot this July in Plum Village, France, during the month-long Summer Retreat, in which thousands of families from all over the world learn how mindfulness can enrich and heal people of all ages. Throughout the month, parents, teachers, childrens, monks, nuns, and Thich Nhat Hanh let us into their experience and share their stories and practice of mindfulness. The result is that this feature documentary and animated film gives everyone an embodied experience of peace and wellbeing and effective tools for creating peaceful, happy lives long after the film is over.

You can learn more about the project, read updates from the film team, or donate to the project, at http://www.indiegogo.com/plantingseedsfilm.

We invite you to participate in one of our UCSD CFM education-based mindfulness Youth and Family Programs; Stress Reduction Program for Teens or A Course in Mindful Parenting.

If you are an educator please consider joining us for our popular  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop for Educators Saturday, November 3, 2012, 9am-3pm.

We are also  happy to keep you up to date on all the exciting developments taking place around our upcoming  Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference February 1-3, 2013, Catamaran Resort Hotel, San Diego, CA. Stay informed about Jon Kabat-Zinn’s benefit lecture and very special 3-hour workshop on Mindful Parenting with his wife Myla Kabat-Zinn on the conference website and through liking the conference Facebook Page.

Conference Recordings Offer Mindfulness-Based Tools for Educators, Counselors, and Parents

Over the last decade, an increasing number of parents, children, educators, clinicians and researchers have studied and experienced the wide-ranging benefits of bringing mindfulness practice to youth in educational, clinical, and community settings. To help develop best practices within this growing movement, the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine and Center for Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens, developed the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, which took place in February 2012.

The first-of-its-kind conference was designed to engage professionals in the ongoing discussion of the field as well as to assist their professional growth, all within the context of a thought-provoking, collegial and collaborative environment.

“We are excited about sharing the conference audio and videos of this dynamic gathering to those who weren’t able to attend, and thereby extend the discussion across the globe to people interested in this work in all its forms,” said Steven D. Hickman, PsyD, Director, UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. “Our deepest hope is that our efforts will support and deepen the important work being done, and foster even more profound impact in years to come.”

Publisher More Than Sound recorded over 20 hours of presentations and workshops with thought leaders from various disciplines (clinicians, educators and researchers), including the following keynote addresses:

Rick Hanson, PhD
Neuropsychologist and Author
Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century


Susan Kaiser-Greenland, JD

Author, Educator, Co-Founder, Inner Kids
The Mindful Child: Teaching the New ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion

Amishi Jha, PhD
Psychologist and Researcher
University of Miami
From Dazed and Distracted to Attentive and Calm: What the Neuroscience of Mindfulness Reveals

Pamela Seigle, MS
Executive Director, Courage & Renewal NE

Chip Wood, MSW
Author and Educator, Facilitator
Courage & Renewal Northeast

Courage in Schools: Connecting Hearts and Minds in the Adult Community

The following workshops and breakout sessions are also available:

Gina M. Biegel, MA, LMFT
Psychotherapist and Author, Founder, Stressed Teens Program
Mindfulness for Professionals Working with Adolescents: A Training in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Teens (MBSR-T)

Randye Semple, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Author
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Anxious Children
Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children (MBCT-C)

Megan Cowan
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Programs, Mindful Schools
Integrating Mindfulness into the K5 Classroom: Lessons Learned From Teaching Over 13,000 Students

Gina M. Biegel, MA, LMFT
Race to Right Here Right Now: An Introduction for Utilizing and Disseminating Mindfulness with Adolescents

M. Lee Freedman, MD

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Co-Founder, Mindfulness Toronto, Founder, Mindful Families and School
Mindful Parents: Resilient Children: Teaching Mindful Parenting Practice through Group and Individual Psychotherapy

Joe Klein, LPC, CSAC
Founder and President Inward Bound Mindfulness Education
Sex, Drugs, Facebook and Ice Cream

Sam Himelstein, PhD
Psychotherapist, Researcher, and Mindfulness Teacher
and
Chris McKenna

Mindfulness Teacher & Executive Director, Mind Body Awareness Project
Teaching Mindfulness to Urban & At-Risk Adolescents

Amy Saltzman, MD
Mindfulness Teacher & Holistic Physician, Creator and Director: Still Quiet Place, Co-founder and Director: Association for Mindfulness in Education
Still Quiet Place: Proven Practices for Teaching Children and Teens the Skills for Peace and Happiness

Amy Garrett, PhD
Research Scientist Stanford University
Brain Abnormalities Associated with Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents

Nimrod Sheinman, ND
Naturopathic physician and mind-body expert, Founder, Israel Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Founder, The Mindful Language Project
Bringing the Soul Back to School: Lessons Learned from over 15 Years of Teaching Mindfulness and Mind-Body Health in Israeli Schools

The audio recordings and videos are a useful resource for psychologists, counselors, educators, health professionals and parents who are working with children and teens. To purchase the audio or streaming conference videos of individual talks or the full conference, and to learn more about each talk, visit More Than Sound. Presenter biographies are available here. Sample video clips are available on More Than Sound’s YouTube channel.

The UCSD Center for Mindfulness is planning the second annual Bridging Hearts & Minds conference, scheduled for February 1-3, 2013.

Mindfulness as a Fundamental Form of Literacy, Gems from an Interview with Rick Hanson

Mindful.org logo

Mindful.org’s On Teen Life blogger Gina M. Biegel, MA, LMFT, founder of  Stressed Teens , psychotherapist, and author, has posted a fascinating interview with Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom and the newly released Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time.

In her blog post, Biegel notes that “Hanson . . . says mindfulness can help young adults learn and recognize that they do, in fact, have power and control, and can adjust their own minds. He’ll often ask them, ‘Who is in charge of your attention? Are you a hammer or a nail when it comes to your attention? Most people are nails being pounded on all day long.’ Read the rest of the post at mindful.org.

Join Gina, Rick, and a number of other presenters who are at the forefront of bringing mindfulness to youth at the Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research conference, February 4-5, 2012 at the Catamaran Hotel in San Diego.

Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference

Noted Neuropsychologist and Author of “Buddha’s Brain” To Offer Public Talk in San Diego in Feb.

Don’t miss Dr. Rick Hanson’s public lecture, Taking in the Good: Helping Children Build Inner Strength and Happiness at the UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest Auditorium, San Diego, CA February 3, 2012, 7:00pm. Rick is a neuropsychologist and noted authority on the effects of mindfulness on the brain. He is the author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom and can be seen in this video highlighting some of the points he will cover in more depth in February.

Register Now $15 Per Person

Dr. Hanson will also be delivering a keynote address, Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research Conference being held at the Catamaran Hotel, San Diego, CA February 4-5, 2012. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

See the Good in Others

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. will be delivering a keynote address, Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research Conference being held at the Catamaran Resort Hotel, San Diego, CA February 4-5, 2012.

Dr.Hanson will also be presenting a public lecture, Taking in the Good: Helping Children Build Inner Strength and Happiness at the UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest Auditorium, San Diego, CA February 3, 2012, 7:00pm.

What do you notice in people?
The Practice:
See the good in others.
Why?

Many interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: we sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often do we actually take the extra few seconds to get a sense of what’s inside other people – especially their good qualities?

In fact, because of what scientists call the brain’s “negativity bias” (you could see my talk at Google for more on this), we’re most likely to notice the bad qualities in others rather than the good ones: the things that worry or annoy us, or make us critical.

Unfortunately, if you feel surrounded by lots of bad or at best neutral qualities in others, and only a sprinkling of dimly-sensed good ones, then you naturally feel less supported, less safe, and less inclined to be generous or pursue your dreams. Plus, in a circular way, when another person gets the feeling that you don’t really see much that’s good in him or her, that person is less likely to take the time to see much that’s good in you.

Seeing the good in others is thus a simple but very powerful way to feel happier and more confident, and become more loving and more productive in the world.

How?

Slow down – Step out of the bumper car and spend a few moments being curious about the good qualities in the other person. You are not looking through rose-colored glasses: instead, you are opening your eyes, taking off the smog-colored glasses of the negativity bias, and seeing what the facts really are.
See positive intentions – Recently I was at the dentist’s, and her assistant told me a long story about her electric company. My mouth was full of cotton wads, and I didn’t feel interested. But then I started noticing her underlying aims: to put me at ease, fill the time until she could pull the cotton out, and connect with each other as people. Maybe she could have pursued those aims in better ways. But the aims themselves were positive – which is true of all fundamental wants even if the methods used to fulfill them have problems. For example, a toddler throwing mashed potatoes wants fun, a teenager dripping attitude wants higher status, and a mate who avoids housework wants leisure. Try to see the good intentions in the people around you. In particular, sense the longing to be happy in the heart of every person.
See abilities – Going through school, I was very young and therefore routinely picked last for teams in PE: not good for a guy’s self-esteem. Then, my first year at UCLA, I gave intramural touch football a try. We had a great quarterback who was too small for college football. After one practice, he told me in passing, “You’re good and I’m going to throw to you.” I was floored. But this was the beginning of me realizing that I was actually quite a good athlete. His recognition also made me play better which helped our team. Thirty-five years later I can still remember his comment. He had no idea of its impact, yet it was a major boost to my sense of worth. In the same way, unseen ripples spread far and wide when we see abilities in others – especially if we acknowledge them openly.
See positive character traits – Unless you’re surrounded by deadbeats and sociopaths, everyone you know must have many virtues, such as determination, generosity, kindness, patience, energy, grit, honesty, fairness, or compassion. Take a moment to observe virtues in others. You could make a list of virtues in key people in your life – even in people who are challenging for you!

Last and not least: recognize that the good you see in others is also in you. You couldn’t see that good if you did not have an inkling of what it was. You, too, have positive intentions, real abilities, and virtues of mind and heart. Those qualities are a fact, as much a fact as the chair you’re sitting on. Take a moment to let that fact sink in. You don’t need a halo to be a truly good person. You are a truly good person.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs with Sounds True. His weekly e-newsletter – Just One Thing – has over 27,000 subscribers, and also appears on Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and other major websites.

For more information, please see his full profile at www.RickHanson.net.

See Beings Not Bodies

We are thrilled to announce posts from guest author Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Dr. Hanson will be presenting a public lecture, Taking in the Good: Helping Children Build Inner Strength and Happiness at the UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest Auditorium, San Diego, CA February 3, 2012, 7:00pm and keynote address, Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research Conference being held at the Catamaran Resort Hotel, San Diego, CA February 4-5, 2012.

What happens when you look at someone?
The Practice:
See beings, not bodies.
Why?

When we encounter someone, usually the mind automatically slots the person into a category: man, woman, your friend Tom, the kid next door, etc. Watch this happen in your own mind as you meet or talk with a co-worker, salesclerk, or family member.

In effect, the mind summarizes and simplifies tons of details into a single thing – a human thing to be sure, but one with an umbrella label that makes it easy to know how to act. For example: “Oh, that’s my boss (or mother-in-law, or boyfriend, or traffic cop, or waiter) . . . and now I know what to do. Good.”

This labeling process is fast, efficient, and gets to the essentials. As our ancestors evolved, rapid sorting of friend or foe was very useful. For example, if you’re a mouse, as soon as you smell something in the “cat” category, that’s all you need to know: freeze or run like crazy!

On the other hand, categorizing has lots of problems. It fixes attention on <a title="See the Person Behind the Eyes" surface features of the person’s body, such as age, gender, attractiveness, or role. It leads to objectifying others (e.g., “pretty woman,” “authority figure”) rather than respecting their humanity. It tricks us into thinking that a person comprised of changing complexities is a static unified entity. It’s easier to feel threatened by someone you’ve labeled as this or that. And categorizing is the start of the slippery slope toward “us” and “them,” prejudice, and discrimination.

Flip it around, too: what’s it like for you when you can tell that another person has slotted you into some category? In effect, they’ve thingified you, turned you into a kind of “it” to be managed or used or dismissed, and lost sight of you as a “thou.” What’s this feel like? Personally, I don’t like it much. Of course, it’s a two-way street: if we don’t like it when it’s done to us, that’s a good reason not to do it to others.

How?

This practice can get abstract or intellectual, so try to bring it down to earth and close to your experience.

When you encounter or talk with someone, instead of reacting to what their body looks like or is doing or what category it falls into:

  • Be aware of the many things they are, such as: son, brother, father, uncle, schoolteacher, agnostic, retired, American, fisherman, politically conservative, cancer survivor, friendly, smart, donor to the YMCA, reader of detective novels, etc. etc.
  • Recognize some of the many thoughts, feelings, and reactions swirling around in the mind of the other person. Knowing the complexity of your own mind, try to imagine some of the many bubbling-up contents in their stream of consciousness.
  • Being aware of your own changes – alert one moment and sleepy another, nervous now and calm later – see changes happening in the other person.
  • Feeling how things land on you, tune into the sense of things landing on the other person. There is an experiencing of things over there – pleasure and pain, ease and stress, joy and sorrow – just like there is in you. This inherent subjectivity to experience, this quality of be-ing, underlies and transcends any particular attribute, identity, or role a person might have.
  • Knowing that there is more to you than any label could ever encompass, and that there is a mystery at the heart of you – perhaps a sacred one at that – offer the other person the gift of knowing this about them as well.

At first, try this practice with someone who is neutral to you, that you don’t know well, like another driver in traffic or a person in line with you at the deli. Then try it both with people who are close to you – such as a friend, family member, or mate – and with people who are challenging for you, such as a critical relative, intimidating boss, or rebellious teenager.

The more significant the relationship, the more it helps to see beings, not bodies.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report and he has several audio programs with Sounds True. His weekly e-newsletter – Just One Thing – has over 27,000 subscribers, and also appears on Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and other major websites.

For more information, please see his full profile at www.RickHanson.net.