In Episode 44 of the Brain Science Podcast I talk with Daniel Siegel, MD about meditation and the brain. Dr. Siegel is the author of several books including The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being. In this interview, we review the scientific evidence about how mindfulness meditation changes the brain, both in terms of short term activity and in terms of long-term structural changes. The evidence is convincing that a regular mindfulness practice can be an important element of brain health.
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Show Notes and Links
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.:
- The Mindsight Institute.
- UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
- The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.
- Sound True™ audio version of The Mindful Brain.
- The Developing Mind.
- Parenting from the Insight Out, with Mary Hartzell
Scientists and writers mentioned in Episode 44:
- Jon Kabat-Zinn: pioneer in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).
- Richard Davidson (University of Wisconsin): imaging studies of long-term meditators.
- Sara Lazar (Harvard): imaging studies that show thickening of certain brain areas in long-term meditators.
- David Creswell (UCLA): studies beneficial effects of meditation.
- Ruth Baer (University of Kentucky): studies mindfulness based therapies.
- Jeff Hawkins:On Intelligence (Interviewed in Episode 38).
More information about meditation:
- Insight Meditation Society (Barre, MA).
- Spirit Rock (Insight Meditation Center in northern California).
- The Seeds of Compassion (link to video with Dr. Siegel and the Dalai Llama).
- Episode 20 of Books and Ideas with Delany Dean, PhD *.
Note: Insight Meditation is based of vipassana meditation, the mindfulness practices of Theravada, the oldest branch of Buddhism. Insight Meditation is easily adapted to secular purposes because it not based on beliefs or dogmas. The most well-known secular form is called mindfulness meditation, which begins with a focus on breath awareness and then advances to developing compassion for oneself and others.
Researchers are studying people who practice other types of mediation also. Richard Davidson has focused his work on the study of Tibetan Buddhist monks. Their practice emphasizes the development of compassion.
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