The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being
Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, where he has taught for more than 30 years, and an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He received his Doctor of Psychology degree from Rutgers University and completed his clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Siegel is a longtime student of mindfulness practices, and serves on the board of directors and faculty of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He teaches internationally about mindfulness and its application to psychotherapy and other fields, has worked for many years in community mental health, and maintains a private clinical practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Dr. Siegel is also a contributor to other professional books and publications, including Psychotherapy Networker and Contemporary Psychology, and is a co-director of the annual Harvard Medical School conference Meditation and Psychotherapy. Dr. Siegel has taught workshops for diverse organizations, and his work has been featured on National Public Radio and on local radio and television programs.
01: Why Mindfulness Matters
Begin by exploring the nature of mindfulness practice as a means of developing awareness with acceptance of our present experience. Review its remarkable range of psychological and physical benefits, dispel common misconceptions, and uncover the three core skills it employs as part of an empirically-supported path to well-being.
02: Our Troublesome Brains
Here, discover how our brains are actually predisposed, evolutionarily, to psychological distress. Learn about the human "negativity bias," and how our tendency to both anticipate and try to avoid pain leads to problems. Consider what mindfulness teaches us about the mind, and what challenges might arise in practicing mindfulness-beginning with awareness of breath.
03: Informal, Formal, and Intensive Practices
Grasp how mindfulness, like physical fitness, must be developed through regular and sustained practice. Investigate ways of cultivating mindfulness during daily activities such as bathing or driving, and understand the significant benefits of formal meditative practice and intensive retreats. Learn also about walking and eating meditation.
04: Who Am I? The Perils of Self
Now grapple with one of the most fundamental and challenging insights that come from mindfulness practice. With reference to both cognitive science and traditional Buddhist thought, observe how the human mind creates the illusory sense of a "separate" self, and how this conception of separateness is itself the cause of suffering.
05: Mindfulness or Psychotherapy?
Delve into the implications of mindfulness practice for psychological well-being. Learn how mindfulness practice works toward many of the same goals as psychotherapy. Explore how the ultimate aim of traditional mindfulness practice diverges from earlier Western psychology in proposing a more radical path to psychological, emotional, and spiritual freedom.
06: Attention and Empathy in Relationships
See how mindfulness practices train us to embrace our moment-to-moment experience. Learn how this capacity allows us to be with discomfort and to freely tolerate all emotional states, and how this can positively affect our relationships through cultivating empathy, open-mindedness, and mental flexibility.
07: The Science of Compassion and Self-Compassion
"Compassion" is empathy for suffering that includes a desire to alleviate it. Learn how compassion for oneself is associated with virtually every desirable psychological outcome. Learn steps and exercises to cultivate compassion both for yourself and others, and review studies on the benefits of developing compassion.
08: Tailoring Practices to Fit Changing Needs
In choosing mindfulness practices for your own life, consider seven different criteria or questions to ask, such as which mindfulness skills to emphasize; whether to favor secular or religious approaches; and when to do practices that cultivate a sense of safety as opposed to those that work with difficult psychological material.
09: Modifying Our Brain Function and Structure
This lecture takes a thorough look at mindfulness and brain function. Review studies that show how mindfulness practice activates areas of the brain that regulate emotions, integrate thoughts and feelings, increase empathy, and facilitate learning and memory, while also retaining more brain matter and staving off aspects of cognitive decline typically associated with aging.
10: Solitude - An Antidote to Loneliness
Explore how mindfulness and compassion practices deepen connection and communication with others, and also cultivate an awareness of "interbeing"-our connection to the larger world. Review data showing how mindfulness skills enhance relationships, and see how mindfulness fosters the ability to be alone, a capacity essential for intimacy.
11: Connecting with Children and Adolescents
Mindfulness practice offers distinct benefits for caregivers of young people. Observe how mindfulness training helps us enter a child's world through developing spontaneity and sensitivity, as well as fostering effective responses to misbehavior. Also learn mindfulness techniques that children and young people can use themselves.
12: Seeing Sadness and Depression in a New Light
Grasp how depression involves shutting down and turning away from pain, and how mindfulness practice turns our attention to the experience at hand, thus challenging the depressive stance. Observe how mindfulness changes our relationship to thoughts, moods, and feelings, allowing us to see them as transient events.
13: Befriending Fear, Worry, and Anxiety
Investigate the nature of anxiety and fear, seeing their roots in fantasies about the future. Consider how we typically cope with worry and anxiety by distracting ourselves, and how mindfulness training can free us from anxiety through directly facing our fears while grounded in the present moment.
14: Transforming Chronic Pain
Review substantial evidence that the vast majority of chronic back pain is actually stress-related, and learn about the effects of negative emotions on the body. Discover how mindfulness practice offers an effective approach to dealing with physical pain, through changing our relationship to both the symptom and to pain-related thinking.
15: Placebos, Illness, and the Power of Belief
This lecture explores the extraordinary power of the mind to affect our subjective experience of the body. Review astonishing data on the effectiveness of placebos in medical treatment, and learn how mindfulness practice can aid in treating conditions such as insomnia, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems, and illness anxiety.
16: Interrupting Addiction and Troublesome Habits
Investigate the nature of compulsive behaviors and the psychological patterns that keep them in place. Observe how mindful awareness can dismantle these patterns, allowing us to be with changing waves of feelings and urges without having to act on them. Learn about effective mindfulness-based programs for a range of problematic behaviors.
17: Overcoming Traumas Large and Small
Study how trauma affects the mind, and how the tendency to suppress traumatic experiences leads to painful symptoms and unhealthy behavior. Grasp the ways in which mindfulness techniques can be highly effective for processing and integrating avoided feelings, and learn four practical steps for working with traumatic material.
18: Groundbreaking Mindfulness Programs
We are now seeing the wide-scale adoption of mindfulness practices into many healthcare settings. Study the approaches and benefits of pioneering programs such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and learn additional techniques that can deepen any mindfulness practice.
19: The Neurobiology of Self-Preoccupation
Science is now able to measure brain activity related to self-referential thinking-self-focused thought patterns that tend to correlate with distress. Examine findings from recent studies showing that experienced meditators can quickly step out of the self-preoccupied thought stream, with significant benefits for their ability to deal with pain and to cultivate wellness.
20: Growing Up Isn't Easy - Facing Impermanence
Mindfulness traditions teach us that facing impermanence can be extraordinarily liberating. Assess your readiness, and consider how mindfulness practices offer a different way of relating to the realities of aging, sickness, and death itself, and how cultivating deep attention to the present moment allows us to freely enjoy all the stages of life.
21: Toward a Science of Wisdom
Today, scientific psychologists are beginning to grapple with the question of what wisdom is and how it may be developed. Examine current experimental models for studying wisdom, and discover the key elements of wisdom they identify. Review eight ways that mindfulness practices can help us to develop wisdom.
22: The Promise of Enlightenment
The ultimate goal of traditional mindfulness practice is a psychological transformation known as "enlightenment." Grasp the nature of this awakening in practical terms and learn about various pitfalls and challenges people encounter along the path, including spiritual materialism, foundations for awareness, and interpersonal contexts.
23: Mindful Ethics as a Path to Freedom
Recent research suggests a bilateral relationship between ethics and well-being. Consider five ethical precepts, and use them as tools of inquiry to observe which actions lead to suffering for ourselves and others. Learn how to develop an empirically derived ethical code-one not received as doctrine, but based in personal experience.
24: The New Science of Happiness
Finally, learn about the new field of positive psychology, and how mindfulness practices foster empirically-supported paths to happiness. Consider the many things that we mistakenly assume will produce happiness, and the alternative of a reliable avenue to well-being, grounded in attention to the present moment, engagement in life, gratitude, and connectedness to others.
25: Bonus Meditation: Breath Awareness Practice
Bonus Meditation: Breath Awareness Practice
26: Bonus Meditation: Loving Kindness Practice
Bonus Meditation: Mountain Meditation
27: Bonus Meditation: Mountain Meditation
Bonus Meditation: Breathing Together
28: Bonus Meditation: Breathing Together
Bonus Meditation: Loving-Kindness Practice
29: Bonus Meditation: Stepping Into Fear
Bonus Meditation: Stepping Into Fear