Will the highest court in the US find that we must move toward more a more equitable healthcare system, moving beyond being a live-and-let-die nation? To get there, we need to have brains that are more capable of evolved relationships -- structurally more integrated, with greater resilience, and the ability to cooperate rather than annihilate.
Single or in a relationship, Valentine's Day often flings daggers of loneliness, not the gentle arrows of Cupid. It can feel a little like an episode of "Survivor" — are you (or your relationship) surviving? Thriving? Or getting voted off the island?
In the scheme of "rewiring your brain for love," one of the benefits of mindfulness practice for relationships could be like acquiring a voltmeter -- that quality of empathy that allows you the ability to accurately read the voltage between you and your partner.
Unfortunately, many of us don't "do" empathy in a way that supports a healthy relationship.
From your nervous system's point of view, there're a limited number of ways to respond to an argument. You can do one of the “knee-jerk” reactions like fight, flight, or freeze. Roar and bite, run like hell, freeze like a deer in the headlights...Or, you can take a breath, and get your nervous system to make good use of its more highly evolved parts.
If being independent is the pinnacle of accomplishment - for our country, for our kids - then how do we live well with one another - globally, or individually?Maybe even more to the point, what goes on in the brains of those who are stoically independent, and does it serve their well-being?
As a psychologist, I see people in my practice all the time who complain that the thrill of sex dies down after awhile. It gets, well, routine. Same-old, same-old. Going through the motions. Sometimes, they get around to asking what they can do to spice things up. "Yes, there is," I say.
In my work as a psychologist, I see a lot of very bright, insightful people who still struggle with relationships, and when I suggest that they start practicing mindfulness meditation, they want to know how meditating can help their love lives. How is it going to make things better between them and their [fill in the blank: Wife/Husband/Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Partner...]?
There are an awful lot of misconceptions about mindfulness meditation. Like, "people who meditate are just using it as a place to 'hide out' by escaping into some blissed-out, checked-out place". It's why a lot of people mistakenly decide that meditation is useless, or worse. What if it turned out they were actually re-wiring their brains in vital, important ways?
For many of us, the wear-and-tear of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is a net loss for our brains and our bodies, and it's not just because of the extra food and drink, or how annoying your in-laws are.
Most of us have a lovely vision of Thanksgiving: The road to Grandma's house, graced by autumn leaves. Being greeted by warmth and family, feeling grateful and eating our familiar favorites. The kids have made turkey drawings by tracing around their adorable little hands. Best of all, everyone gets along beautifully.Yeah, right.
There's increasing evidence that the simple practice of mindfulness meditation can re-wire your brain. In key areas, you can literally change and grow neural connections which support finding and creating better relationships. And in nine different ways, your brain can become more like those who grew up knowing how to love and be loved in healthy, sustainable ways.
If we had healthy relationships with our parents, we're good to go, with brain connections that were nurtured in ways that support healthy relationships. For the rest of us? Very good news: We're not stuck with a brain that doesn't change. We can give ourselves a second chance for successful relationship brain wiring, using mindfulness meditation (no religion required).
The Dalai Lama was in Washington, DC recently, meeting with world-class neuroscientists, national leaders in education, and advanced contemplatives. I went to get the latest scoop about mindfulness meditation and its impact on the brain. One gem came from neither ancient Buddhist wisdom, nor cutting-edge neuroscience, but from that peaceful renegade, Henry David Thoreau.
We all know that being judgmental isn't a relationship-enhancer. And still, most of us step into that trap, doing damage to our relationships on a stubbornly regular basis. How about knocking that judge out with a one-two punch: Use the latest neuroscientific findings about the brain, and then bring in a Buddhist nun to finish things off?
A friend of mine calls them "The Toothpaste Tube Wars." In some households, it's the "Battle of the Toilet Seat" or the "Why-on-Earth-Do-You-Load-the-Dishwasher-Like-That Police Action." They start with a small skirmish over something minor, and quickly escalate into a heated battle.
Over. And. Over. Again.