Auto Draft 2Mindfulness Works!

Learning to be ‘mindful’ is a key skill for improving well-being … even with just 8 minutes of daily practice. Try it out here with a few videos.


Learning to be ‘mindful’ is a key skill for improving well-being … even with just 8 minutes of daily practice. Try it out here with a few videos.


Learning the mindfulness technique facilitates learning to be more self-aware. It’s a crucial first step to starting to use other behavior change skills.  Please watch Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT (a variation of the theme of CBT), discuss what’s involved in the skill of Mindfulness.

Understand your Brain


Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is NOT the same as a ‘relaxation skill’ – which quiets down your central nervous system … to relax when you’re too jazzed up with anxiety or too charged up to fall asleep.

Videos #1 – #5 explain and demo mindfulness meditation (and 1 for relaxation):
(1)  Animation explains (simply) what mindfulness meditation is
(2) Animation shows how mindfulness meditation works
(3) Jon Kabat Zinn demonstrates ‘mindful’ practice;

(4)  Brian Schwartz explains its value for getting out of obsessive loops
(5) Judson Brewer explains its value for stress management and breaking a self-defeating habit.

Video #6 demonstrates a skill to bring on the ‘relaxation response’ (to calm your nervous system):

(6)  David Carbonell demonstrates the quickest relaxation skill that is science-based – slow belly breathing
(7)  Fascinating article on the different benefits of different meditation types

(1)  What is/Why to use mindfulness

(2)  How it works

(3)  Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrates it

Learning to be ‘mindful’ is the first step in managing your moods.  Below is a quick sampler of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s instruction. He founded the scientifically-validated Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at UMass. Their first study showed that a brief mindfulness practice boosted the immune system of patients — reducing the physical symptoms of psoriasis.

The full MBSR course is given at many universities. Locally, I recommend the one at George Washington University. I also recommend the MBSR course led by Stan Eisenstein, MSW, given in DC and Maryland at different times of the year.

Another option is to take the ONLINE Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (produced by JKZ’s Center) – from the convenience of your own home!   To date, more than 20,000 patients have completed the MBSR program at UMass, which they now offer LIVE-Online as well. Worldwide, there are more than 740 MBSR programs in hospitals, clinics, and at free-standing programs serving the needs of tens of thousands of people on six continents. Also, you can experience MBSR online – FREE of charge.

Another option is to try out Headspace, a computer-based (or an app for the phone) program that walks you through mindfulness – easily/briefly. It’s free. Many people find it a helpful way to get started, especially to see what it’s like before trying out the MBSR course.

(4) Jeffrey Schwartz, MD – You Are Not Your Brain

One of the most important things we learn from mindfulness practice is … You are not your thoughts (you notice that you are having a thought), you are not your feelings (you notice that you are having a feeling), and ultimately, you are not whatever your brain automatically throws at you.

We can choose to focus on what is most important to us. We use our ‘wise mind’ to choose. It’s essential to realize the difference between your autopilot brain and your wise mind.

See more interesting videos related to mindfulness by Dr. Schwartz.

More about the Default Mode Network



(5) Breaking an old habit

Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

It’s never too late to start!  It’s proven … Just 8 minutes of daily practice will change your brain, for good.

See more interesting studies from the American Mindfulness Research Association.  For instance, MBSR has been found to be cost effective for Low Back Pain.

(6)  Breathe: The simplest relaxation skill

David Carbonell demonstrates slow deep breathing. You will want to use this behavioral tool to help yourself to relax your central nervous system – to reduce anxiety – or to simply wind down from the day (before sleep) when you’re jazzed up.

 7)  Benefits of different types of meditations

What Type of Meditation Is Best for You?

One of the most in-depth meditation studies to date shows that different practices have different benefits.

More about Mindfulness

Dan Harris (not an animation) debunks 3 misconceptions about mindfulness meditation …

Dan Harris cites studies showing mindfulness can grow gray matter in your brain to change the “Default Mode” and to help you be happier …


Well-Being is a Skill

Modern neuroscience teaches that we can train our brains to have more well-being; it’s a skill to learn. Watch a thought-leader in the field of neuropsychology, Dr. Davidson, talk in Part I … about the science of well-being and in Part II … the 4 constituents of well-being, including the importance of practicing mindfulness.


Recommended: Happiness resourcesResources for Well-Being

Here are (mostly free) resources that you can use right away to experience more well-being.


Here are (mostly free) resources that you can use right away to experience more well-being.

Podcast (FREE)

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley recently announced that their acclaimed podcast, “The Science of Happiness,” won a 2019 bronze medal in the Health Podcast category from New York Festivals Radio Awards.

I loved Episode #43:  How to Keep Love Alive … for the practical tips, the science, as well as the personal story.

Videos (FREE)

Positive Psychology

The University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center recommends these Videos by Leading Scholars.

The Center is led by Martin E. P. Seligman, the father of positive psychology, the best teacher I’ve ever had. He is worth a listen. In his recent video, Dr. Seligman explains his ideas for how to create well-being – he calls PERMA.


One of the first skills to acquire to improve well-being, is ‘mindfulness’ … watch videos to learn how to do it.

Questionnaires (FREE)

You can assess your top Signature Strengths (VIA Survey of Character Strengths) among other numerous other free assessments at U Penn’s ‘Authentic Happiness’ site.  For more about strengths, see my post.

Online Courses (FREE)

UC Berkeley:  The Science of Happiness

This course is the first MOOC to teach the roots of – as well as the practical exercises for – a happy and meaningful life.

The course’s co-instructors, Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, are not only leading authorities on positive psychology but also gifted UC Berkeley teachers skilled at making science fun and personal. They’ll be joined by world-renowned experts discussing themes like empathy, mindfulness, and gratitude—experts including Barbara Fredrickson, Paul Ekman, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Yale:  The Science of Well-Being

I binged this course … but it’s better to take it weekly to do the practice! Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

Online Course (fee-based)

Rick Hanson: The Foundations of Well-Being

I’ve taken this course – Foundations of Well-Being.  It’s for anyone who’d like to improve their well-being … not just reduce anxiety or depression. The Foundations of Well-Being: A year of Growing Good in Your Brain and In Your Life. Go here to learn more about this terrific online course.

For free, get a sense of Rick from watching his YouTube channel videos.

Published Aug. 12, 2014 By Rick Hanson

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