This is an excellent video about mindfulness based skills that are helpful for wellbeing. Dr. Richie Davidson is an extremely well known researcher who has been instrumental in documenting the neuroscience behind mindfulness mediation. In this video he discusses four areas of research that have a significant impact on wellness. They are:
1. Neuroplasticity and the evidence that the brain can grow new cells throughout the lifetime
2. Epigenetics, or the science of how hardwired genetics are actually expressed in the body
3. Bidirectional highways exist between the brain and body. The brain can regulate biological systems, and likewise changes in the body will feedback into neuronal function
4. Human beings come into the world with innate basic goodness. Infants at 6 months show clear preference for altruistic and warmhearted encounters. However for this compassion to flourish the child must be raised in a community that teaches skills of compassion.
The skills for wellbeing that he discusses are 4 traits that can be learned through mindfulness training:
- Resilience, the ability to rapidly recover from adversity
- Continually reminding ourselves of innate basic goodness
- Focused attention, or being “in the flow” – the opposite of multitasking, is a prerequisite for feeling wellbeing.
I present this video as an opportunity to get acquainted with a literature of wellness. It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel chronically unwell, but there are more tools available than simply physical treatments. Convincing yourself that cultivating mindfulness is a worthwhile endeavor starts with becoming familiar with the evidence based scientific literature on brain circuitry and emotional wellbeing
Full Disclosure: I first met Richie Davidson at Harvard where he was my TA for a very influential course for me – The Psychology of Consciousness, taught by Danny Goleman, who went on to write books on Emotional Intelligence. Richie then supervised my Harvard Thesis on Psychoneuroimmunology and the Placebo Effect. I have kept up with his work throughout the years, and have also studied Tibetan Buddhism. So my biases are very strongly in favor of neuroplasticity and epigenetics, which is another way of explaining why I can look so fierce when people tell me they are doomed by their double dreaded genes and methylation mutations, or express certainty that their inflamed brain will never rebalance or normalize. The science just doesn’t support those statements of hopelessness.
For further information on this large body of research please check out