Mind & Life
Amy Cohen Varela – The Power of Undoing

Amy Cohen Varela – The Power of Undoing

December 2, 2022

AmyCohenVarela_sq1.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with clinical psychologist and contemplative Amy Cohen Varela. In addition to her work as a psychoanalytic therapist, Amy is also the widow of Francisco Varela (co-founder of the Mind & Life Institute), and continues to share his vision and work through the offerings of Mind & Life Europe. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • her dual interest in biology and literature;
  • the contemplative aspects of psychoanalysis;
  • skills learned from listening deeply to yourself and to others;
  • how she met Francisco Varela;
  • enaction, meaning, and participatory sense-making;
  • links between Francisco's ideas and Buddhist philosophy;
  • subjective and objective viewpoints, and how we oversimplify Buddhism and science in that dynamic;
  • how more than a decade with Francisco has changed her;
  • the power of curiosity and openness;
  • doing and undoing the self in psychoanalysis;
  • Francisco's reflections on the Chilean civil war, and implications for polarization;
  • the need for systems to be able to "undo" themselves;
  • and Mind & Life Europe's latest offerings.

Full show notes and resources

Zindel Segal – Mindfulness and Depression

Zindel Segal – Mindfulness and Depression

November 18, 2022

ZindelSegal_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with renowned clinical psychologist, researcher, and co-developer of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Zindel Segal. Zindel's work has brought relief to many who suffer from depression, by sharing the tools and skills of mindful awareness. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • his early experiences with meditation and psychology;
  • the development of MBCT and its evolution;
  • seeing thoughts as thoughts;
  • the power of curiosity, kindness, and an attitude of letting be;
  • clinical research on MBCT in depression;
  • staying with difficult experiences;
  • the latest thinking about how antidepressants work;
  • a short guided meditation;
  • the importance of sense foraging;
  • using digital platforms and increasing accessibility to mindfulness skills;
  • adapting practices for the challenges young people face today;
  • how MBCT can shift the sense of self and identity;
  • and how practice has changed him.

Full resources and show notes

Randima Fernando - Humane Technology

Randima Fernando - Humane Technology

November 4, 2022

RandyFernando_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with Randima (Randy) Fernando, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. Over several decades, Randy has worked to integrate technology, mindfulness, and social impact, trying to find ethical solutions to some of our most challenging issues. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • how the strands of Buddhism and technology have woven together throughout his life;
  • the challenges we face with tech today;
  • parallels between mindfulness and humane technology;
  • understanding the "race to the bottom";
  • breaking the myth that technology is neutral;
  • looking at technology through the Buddhist lens of dependent co-arising;
  • problematic incentives in the tech space (e.g., advertising as a business model);
  • the attention economy;
  • how technology trains our attention, emotions, and even our values;
  • technology's impact on the way we view our "self";
  • customized realities, echo chambers, and polarization;
  • how to avoid tech traps;
  • the core principles of humane technology;
  • building values/ethics into AI;
  • understanding dukkha;
  • the pros and cons of using technology to teach mindfulness;
  • and the latest resources from the Center for Humane Technology.

Full show notes and resources

Yuria Celidwen - Indigenous Wisdom

Yuria Celidwen - Indigenous Wisdom

October 21, 2022

YuriaCelidwen_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with contemplative scholar and Indigenous activist Yuria Celidwen. Yuria has worked across many sectors to bring Indigenous ways of knowing into conversation with Western approaches, particularly in contemplative science. This conversation covers many topics, including: 

  • the importance of Indigenous languages;
  • her roots in a lineage of mystics, healers, and explorers;
  • insights from the Mayan calendric system;
  • bringing Indigenous ideas into a dualistic culture;
  • her own experience of othering;
  • the role of contemplative practice amidst today's challenges;
  • opening our awareness to interdependence;
  • bridging and safety as we come together across differences;
  • kin relationality and ecological belonging;
  • subtleties of language and what they reveal;
  • implications of the term "mechanism" in the scientific approach;
  • Indigenous contemplative science;
  • and an inspiring closing poem.

Full show notes and resources

 

Norm Farb - Meditation and the Brain

Norm Farb - Meditation and the Brain

October 7, 2022

NormFarb_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with contemplative researcher Norm Farb. Norm was one of the first people to study how meditation impacts our brains, and his broader work incorporates emotions, body sensations, and present-moment awareness. Their conversation covers many topics, including:

  • his initial research on meditation, neural networks, and modes of self;
  • predictive models of mind;
  • reinforcing vs. updating our model of the world (and implications for political polarization);
  • the default mode network and its role in cognition;
  • how meditation can help shift our habitual patterns;
  • what happens in our minds when we learn to meditate;
  • the concept of mental foraging;
  • interoception and how sensing the body might reduce conceptual processing;
  • depression & interoception, and getting stuck avoiding difficult feelings;
  • the self as the current model of the world;
  • a deeper look at the idea of no-self;
  • the ethics of updating our self model responsibly;
  • localization vs. distribution in the brain;
  • and the state of research on meditation and the brain.

Full resources and show notes

 

Tish Jennings - Contemplative Education

Tish Jennings - Contemplative Education

September 23, 2022

Tish_Jennings_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with contemplative educator and researcher Patricia (Tish) Jennings. Tish has been a pioneer in bringing mindfulness and compassion into school settings, with a particular focus on helping teachers. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • her experience as an educator and a meditator;
  • how teacher stress contributes to the classroom environment;
  • how contemplative practice can help bring awareness to automatic responses, and help shift them;
  • the process of attunement and our core as social beings;
  • how teachers can be sensitive to students who have experienced trauma;
  • problems with the industrialized model of education;
  • how teachers can be a force for change from the inside;
  • yoga and body sensation as mindfulness for young children;
  • somatic awareness and understanding emotions;
  • and what young people need most right now.

Full show notes and resources

Sharon Salzberg - Love and Wisdom

Sharon Salzberg - Love and Wisdom

September 9, 2022

SharonSalzberg_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with renowned and beloved meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. Sharon has been teaching meditation in the West for over 40 years, and is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society. Their conversation covers many topics, including:

  • finding Buddhism and meditation as a teenager, and where it led her;
  • her experience as a woman in the early contemplative movement;
  • loving kindness & metta, and their relationship to prayer;
  • love as an ability;
  • the role of narrative and story-telling in our world and minds;
  • a call for balance and self-compassion on the path;
  • the role of the body in meditation;
  • why contemplation matters for societal change;
  • and living into our interconnection.

Full show notes and resources

Bob Thurman - Wisdom is Bliss

Bob Thurman - Wisdom is Bliss

June 3, 2022

BobThurman_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with Buddhist scholar and author Robert (Bob) Thurman. Bob is one of the foremost scholars in the world on Tibetan Buddhism, and played a major role in bringing Buddhism to America. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • his entry into Buddhism, and befriending the Dalai Lama;
  • links between Buddhism and science (and why Buddhism is 1/6 religion);
  • problems with scientific materialism;
  • enlightenment and emptiness;
  • stories of the Buddha leaving home;
  • four friendly fun facts (noble truths);
  • realistic vs. right approaches on the path;
  • jumping into bliss prematurely;
  • Buddhist ethics;
  • practices to push against essentialism;
  • the key role of compassion in enlightenment;
  • how he thinks about reincarnation and continuation of consciousness;
  • the role of science on the contemplative path;
  • and Bob's parting fun fact.

Full show notes and resources

Lasana Harris - Flexible Social Cognition

Lasana Harris - Flexible Social Cognition

May 20, 2022

LasanaHarris_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with social neuroscientist Lasana Harris about his work on flexible social cognition—the variable ways that we perceive others. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • his accidental entry into psychology;
  • what flexible social cognition is;
  • schemas and predictions about others' minds;
  • dehumanization and why we do it;
  • the role of propaganda and implications for the war in Ukraine;
  • how these processes scale up from individuals to societies;
  • bias and prejudice, and the key roles of threat and safety;
  • the inseparability of cognition and emotion;
  • how contemplative practice might help reduce dehumanization;
  • information overload and echo chambers, and what to do about them;
  • and looking at the concept of self to change social bias.

Full show notes and resources

Jessica Morey - Healing Attachment

Jessica Morey - Healing Attachment

May 6, 2022

JessMorey_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with meditation teacher and co-founder of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), Jessica Morey. Jessica has been working with the contemplative path through the lens of attachment theory, and shares how she blends these approaches for healing. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • her long roots in the contemplative path;
  • meditation retreats for teens through iBme;
  • the basics of attachment theory;
  • contemplative approaches to healing attachment wounds;
  • subtle body and trauma;
  • developing embodied safety;
  • grounding practices with the earth;
  • why it helps to examine your own lineage;
  • benefactor practices and imagining perfect parents;
  • links between Buddhism and attachment theory;
  • and the joys and opportunities of working with teens.

Full show notes and resources

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App