Posts tagged with ‘meditation’

06 jan

Pet The Lizard

RickHansonDown deep, do you feel at ease?
The Practice:
Pet the lizard.

I’ve always liked lizards.

Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, I played in the foothills near our home. Sometimes I’d catch a lizard and stroke its belly, so it would relax in my hands, seeming to feel at ease.

In my early 20’s, I found a lizard one chilly morning in the mountains. It was torpid and still in the cold and let me pick it up. Concerned that it might be freezing to death, I placed it on the shoulder of my turtleneck, where it clung and occasionally moved about for the rest of the day. There was a kind of wordless communication between us, in which the lizard seemed to feel I wouldn’t hurt it, and I felt it wouldn’t scratch or bite me. After a few hours, I hardly knew it was there, and sometime in the afternoon it left without me realizing it.

Now, years later, as I’ve learned more about how the brain evolved, my odd affinity for lizards has started making sense to me. To simplify a complex journey beginning about 600 million years ago, your brain has developed in three basic stages: Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on January 6th, 2012 in General, Health, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 dec

Give Over to Good

RickHansonWhat is living you?
The Practice:
Give over to good.

In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.

We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, “I seem to be a verb.”

This fact is amazing, but it’s corroborated by both modern physics and deep ecology. We can get silly-cosmic about it (done this myself – not only as a college sophomore!), but the implications are very down to earth.

As unique standing waves, you and I are constructed each moment by the currents – the forces and factors, both internal and external – flowing through us. We have no choice about being lived by these currents, continually given over to them.

But we can choose to give ourselves over to the good ones. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 23rd, 2011 in General, Health, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 dec

Remember the Big Things

RickHansonWhat matters most to you?
The Practice:
Remember the big things.

In every life, reminders arrive about what’s really important.

I’ve recently received one myself, in a form that’s already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up a localized melanoma cancer in my ear that will need to come out immediately. The prognosis is very positive – this thing is “non-invasive” – but it’s certainly an intimation of mortality. Hopefully this particular bullet will whiz by, but it’s an uncomfortably concrete message that sooner or later something will catch up with each one of us.

Personally, I am doing alright with this. It’s like there are three layers to my mind as I write here, just a few days after I got the news. The top is focused on problem-solving. Beneath that there’s a furry little animal that’s upset and wants to curl up with loved ones. The bottom feels accepting, peaceful, and grateful.

Naturally enough, after the bullet passes – maybe taking a bit of your ear with it! – you reflect on your life, both past and to come. Of course, you don’t need a health scare – which in my case is small potatoes compared to what so many people around the world must deal with – to consider what you care about most. Then you appreciate the things you’ve honored so far, and you see where you could center yourself more in what’s truly important to you.

While it’s good advice not to sweat the small stuff, we also need to nurture the large stuff. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

02 dec


RickHansonBusy, busy?
The Practice:

This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I’ve been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it’s filling with new tasks.)

Sometimes you can really feel what you need to do by feeling what’s happening for you when you don’t. “Don’t,” that is: ease up, unwind, recharge, put your feet up, take a load off, just chill. Because when you don’t rest, you wear out, wear down, and start running on empty. Then you’re not much good for yourself or anyone else.

But when you get some rest, and get more rested, you have more energy, mental clarity, resilience for the hard things, patience, and wholehearted caring for others.

I promised my wife this would be my all-time fastest JOT to write. Because I really need some rest!

And you do, too.


Tell the truth to yourself about how much time you actually – other than sleep – truly come to rest: not accomplishing anything, not planning anything, not going anywhere. The time when you don’t do anything at all, with a sense of relaxation and ease. No stress, no pressure, nothing weighing on you in the back of your mind. No sense of things undone. Utterly at rest.

Probably not much time at all, if you’re like me. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on December 2nd, 2011 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

29 jul

5000 Synapses in the Width of a Hair

RickHansonHow much change in the brain makes a difference in the mind?

That’s the issue raised by a very interesting comment regarding my previous blog, “The Brain in a Bucket.”

So I’ve taken the liberty of posting the comment here (hoping that’s OK in blog etiquette; still learning as I go), and then responding. Here it is:

I was pondering your statement that long term meditators show a thickening in certain areas of the brain. As I understand it, the volume of the skull is fixed in adults. This would seem to require that if one part thickens, another part must be reduced. I am curious as to whether anyone has considered what the implications of a loss of volume in these other areas might be. I enjoyed your article, and look forward to more on the topic of neurology and meditation.

While the size of the skull is indeed fixed in adulthood, we can both lose gray matter volume due to the normal effects of aging and gain it through mental training of one kind or another. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on July 29th, 2010 in General, Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 jun

Harvesting Confidence

ScottSchwenkWhy does confidence seem so easy for some and yet so completely elusive for others?

Are the people we see as confident truly standing deep and firm in their own boots?

How do the seeds of confidence get planted, nurtured, and radically expanded?

First off, let’s dispel the tidy illusion that so many of the people you see walking tall are actually steeped in deep abiding confidence. A majority of what you think you see are the images people are projecting and wanting for you to see. These visions are largely smoke and mirrors. What passes for confidence on the street is usually some form of arrogance, otherwise known as insecurity dressed up in its Sunday clothes.

In the moments when you yourself are not confident, you can be easily fooled by imagery. Your own insecurity will be the lens through which you view life and people. If this is your case, you may not fully recognize the distortion until you experience points of view free from this energy-draining filter.

Abiding confidence arises through the visceral knowledge of who and what you are. Achievements and honors from the external world only build long-term confidence when they stimulate this inner recognition of your true nature.

If you don’t regularly taste this well-spring of confidence, you’re likely to be missing discipline around some form of meditative practice that actually reveals this true nature to you on a consistent basis. Consistency is the key.

One of the best practices I know of for getting a meal of Truth is meditation. Some form of daily (ideally twice daily) meditation. The most transformative forms of meditation I’ve come across are ones that encourage letting go of control and release the meditator from the rollercoaster ride of thoughts.

For this reason, I’m a big fan of active breathwork. It so quickly engages the parasympathetic nervous system and alkalizes the body that the thinking mind lets go, relaxation runs deep, and the heart opens. Imprinting the mind and body to trust this opening is the biggest part of my work in revealing Truth within.

Without this constant contact, you’re lost. All that’s left is to negotiate and barter with the external world for temporary energy spikes, brief moments of respite through food, sex, shopping, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants.

If happiness and confidence are dependent on another person, place, or object, they’re not yet abiding. They’re temporary, and like all temporary things, can instantly be taken away along with your sense of self. What follows is some form of drop in energy that will likely have the hallmarks of depression.

The challenge in all of this is in cultivating enough belief in what’s possible to take actions, and take them consistently enough to have experiences of growth in confidence. Which comes back to practices that bring what’s possible right into the foreground of your direct experience.

There are plenty of people working to grow confidence. So why isn’t the work proliferating? One reason is gossip.

Gossip is an investment in other people’s energy and opinions at the expense of your own rooted sense of Self. And it can also appear as listening to and believing those niggling thoughts in your own mind about yourself or another.

Gossip is like kudzu in the South. It will spread and spread and choke out anything not like it self, sucking up the water and nutrients for miles and miles.

If you listen to gossip and engage with it (internally or conversationally), your confidence can only go so deep, your sense of Truth will be distorted, and your capacity for intimacy nowhere near what it could be. This is simply because gossip creates separation between people, and when you sow separation, you yourself experience separation.

A Course In Miracles states that “All minds are joined,” so what you do to one you do to All.

My friend and mentor David Elliott spreads a well-known magnifying glass in other words, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Gossip is rooted in a hidden fear of intimacy, a fear of repeating past hurts. The irony is that gossip sows the seeds deeply for future suffering.

Every seed must bear its fruit. Which ones will you plant and nurture?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Scott Schwenk on June 11th, 2010 in Health, New Directions, Uncategorized | 9 comments Read related posts in , ,

15 dec

The One Minute Meditation

LauraFenamoreThis is such a special time of year for so many people. There is a fine line between feeling the joy of the season and feeling stressed out. I want to offer a simple practice to counteract the stressful part of the hustle and bustle of this season of light.

Introducing the 1-minute meditation.

I want to introduce you all to daily meditation for you to be with you and only you.

(If your mind says, I do not want to meditate, do it anyway, and start with one small step, a OnePinky step).

Start with a 1-minute meditation and work your way up to 2 minutes and 3 minutes and on and on.

I suggest you make your first month 1-minute everyday and if you can get through 30 days for a minute, then move on to 2 minutes a day. One year from now you will be up to 12 minutes of meditating a day.

Think of it this way, 12 minutes a day or no minutes a day? I say 12 is better than none and why not start small and let consistency rule? It’s a great way to start a new habit.

Here is how to begin. You will need a timer, something on the quieter side—if possible—that you can hear like a watch timer. Now create a place of solitude. Go to any quiet place. It can be a closet or a bathroom, it does not need to fancy, just quiet and still. Sit down. Place your legs in a relaxed fixed position. Close your eyes.

Now allow your mind to settle into your breathing. Breathe in, Breathe out. Just observe your thoughts and pay attention to your breathing. Always come back to your breath.

When the timer sounds off, stop. This is only meant to be a 1-minute mediation until you are ready to increase the time. The practice is to stay with your agreed-upon time even if you want to go longer. Start this practice with just 1 minute. If you want to do it longer—just in the first month—you may do it several times a day and just stay with 1 minute until it feels supereasy to access at any time. I suspect that you will begin to feel comfortable being in this peaceful state for 1 minute, anytime anywhere.

After the first 30 days, you will notice a positive inner shift and more inner lightness. Let us know how you do. We want to hear from you!

Below are some affirmations to go along with your new 1-minute meditation practice. Have fun with it all.
Life is meant to be fun!

  • A smiling face and joyful loving words are the best presents I can share with the world today.
  • Loving myself gives me the energy to work through any problem more quickly. My life is a labor of love and when I forget that I can reach out to someone who loves me and ask them to remind me.
  • Today and every day I can dance with joy for all I have been blessed with.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. —Dalai Lama

Laura Fenamore, CEO
Leading women to a new conversation about weight release and loving their bodies, for good. Sign up for our free report at

Posted by Laura Fenamore on December 15th, 2009 in Health, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in ,