Rob Ferrett and Cynthia Schuster learn about the benefits of meditation, discuss the challenges faced by elderly drivers, and explore the idea of guaranteeing U.S. citizens a minimum income – in exchange for an end to the current welfare system.
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Brain Scientist Offers Tips on How, Why To Meditate
Meditation is a family of mental training practices that can help us to promote well-being and decrease suffering, according to a prominent University of Wisconsin-Madison professor.
Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at UW-Madison and founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, said his research has found that when people meditate on a regular basis, it actually changes brains and behavior and it “increases the likelihood they’ll behave in pro-social, empathic and altruistic ways.“
A recently published study goes further to show that meditation can change gene expression.
There are many types of meditation. What works best for one person might not work for another. One common thread in meditation practices is the training of attention and learning a more stable mind, which can produce increased sensitivity to self and others.
One popular type of mediation is “Mindfulness” meditation. There are many benefits to learning how to become more mindful. According to Davidson, “Mindfulness can help us decrease our mind wandering, it can help us be present with other people, help us be less distracted, it can also help to cultivate equanimity where we are not jangled or hijacked by unexpected events, that we can’t prevent but that occur daily.”
The Mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere at any time. Davidson advises starting with short sessions spread throughout the day.
Before starting a meditation, Davidson recommends reflecting on the reason for meditating. He said, “These kinds of practices can help us calm our minds and open our hearts. They are not just useful for ourselves, but are actually useful for other humans and other beings with whom we interact.”
- Sit in upright posture, anywhere you are comfortable. Your eyes can be open or closed.
- First focus your attention on the sensations in your head. Notice if the sensations are pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
- Pay attention to how your sensations change. If your muscles begin to relax, notice them relaxing.
- Continue to sweep your attention through body. Focus on the sensations in your face, especially your jaw (as many of us tend to hold tension in our jaws).
- Then, focus one-by-one on your neck, shoulders and arms.
- Notice whatever is present in these areas. Notice if feelings arise, too.
- Next focus on your torso and sit bones. Notice the feeling of sitting on your chair.
- Bring your attention to your legs, feet and finally to your entire body.
- Thoughout the practice, notice whatever arises. Stay in the present moment. If your attention wanders, that’s OK. Just bring it back to the present moment.
A second type of mediation is “Compassion and Loving Kindness” meditation. As with Mindfulness meditation, before doing this meditation, Davidson suggests people reflect on the reason for meditating.
Compassion and Loving Kindness Meditation
- Sit in upright posture, anywhere you are comfortable.
- Bring a loved-one to mind. It can be a close family member or dear friend. Visualize him or her.
- Envision a time when he or she may have been suffering.
- Cultivate strong aspiration that he or she be relieved of suffering.
- State the following phrase, out loud directed to your loved-one, “May you enjoy happiness and its causes. May you be free of suffering and its causes.”
- Repeat the phrase again as many times as you’d like while visualizing your loved one in as strong a way as you can.
- Next visualize other people in your life and repeat the phrase for them.
- Finally, move on to people you consider to be difficult people, people that may push your buttons. Repeat the phrase for them.
“The primary intent of meditation should be others and not yourself,” said Davidson.
However, “research has found that the most important way for us to cultivate well-being and happiness is to be kind to others,” he added.
Teach Me What You Know: Meditation
Central Time continues a new series dedicated to learning all sorts of talents, trades, and knowledge from a wide range of experts. This week listeners learn how to meditate from a friend of the Dalai Lama.
The Challenges Of Elderly Driving
Proposed legislation in Wisconsin would require drivers over the age of 75 to get their drivers licenses renewed every four years instead of every eight years. The lawmaker behind this law explains why he thinks it’s necessary, and then an aging expert explains the challenges elderly drivers face and when you should stop driving. She also gives tips on how to talk to elderly loved ones about their driving abilities.
Replace Welfare Programs With Basic National Income?
Switzerland is considering a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens. A libertarian makes the case for the United States doing the same thing–and getting rid of current welfare programs in exchange.
- Rob Ferrett Host
- Cynthia Schuster Host
- Galen Druke Producer
- Amanda Magnus Producer
- Dr. Richard Davidson Guest
- Fred Risser Guest
- Sue Sweeney Guest
- Matthew Feeney Guest
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