|Can fiction stories make us more empathetic?
||Empathy is important for navigating complex social situations, and is considered a highly desirable trait. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, discussed how exposure to narrative fiction may improve our ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling in his session at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. Exposure [...]The post Can fiction stories make us more empathetic? appeared first on PsyPost.
|Mapping infant brain growth in first three months of life using MRI technology
||A new approach to measuring early brain development of infants has been developed by scientists, resulting in more accurate whole brain growth charts and providing the first estimates for growth trajectories of subcortical areas during the first three months after birth. For the first time, researchers used MRI of the newborn brain to calculate the volume of multiple brain regions and to map out regional growth trajectories during the infant's first 90 days of life.
|Want to kill creativity of women in teams? Fire up the competition
||Recent research has suggested that women play better with others in small working groups, and that adding women to a group is a surefire way to boost team collaboration and creativity. But a new study from Washington University in St. Louis finds that this is only true when women work on teams that aren’t competing [...]The post Want to kill creativity of women in teams? Fire up the competition appeared first on PsyPost.
|Brain training games won’t help children do better at school
||By Emma Blakey, University of Sheffield There has been a big increase recently in the number of computerised “brain training” programs marketed at young children. These programs make impressive claims – that they can help children learn better, that they improve children’s focus and memory, and that they can help children succeed in school. There’s [...]The post Brain training games won’t help children do better at school appeared first on PsyPost.
|When Veterans and Civilians Listen to Each Other
||The wounds of war can ripple through families even decades after veterans return. Finding a way to talk about the unspoken stories of those who have experienced war directly and those back home who experienced war long-distance can be healing. Here's what's involved in finding a common language.
|5 Daily Disciplines to Stay in a Positive State
||“How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new...
|Bioengineers create functional 3-D brain-like tissue: Tissue kept alive for months
||Bioengineers have created three-dimensional brain-like tissue that functions like and has structural features similar to tissue in the rat brain and that can be kept alive in the lab for more than two months. The tissue could provide a superior model for studying normal brain function as well as injury and disease, and could assist in the development of new treatments for brain dysfunction.
|7 Essential Lessons I’ve Learned as a Psychotherapist
||One of the wonderful surprises of being a therapist all these years is how big the gift of being of service can be. I have the privilege of knowing people intimately and supporting them in opening their hearts and uncovering happiness. When I sit with that, it gives me an...
|Back to Reality: Forget These 5 Relationship Illusions
||We’ve all done it. We have blamed our boyfriend, girlfriend, lover or spouse for our state of happiness, or perhaps more accurately, our unhappiness. We tend to look outside of ourselves for the cause of our problems, and thus, we seek outside of ourselves for solutions. The problem with this...
|This Is Why You Constantly Diagnose Yourself Over The Internet
How many times have you reviewed symptoms of psychological disorder on the internet and thought, "I have that!" You're not alone, and there's a reason for it. It's also why psychic readings and the DSM can be very much alike....
|Idleness and Being Creative
||“I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness – to save oneself trouble.” Agatha Christie via brainyquote.com We may feel pressured to stay busy and keep producing, but is there some value for developing creativity...
|10 Tips to Help Kids Cope with War & Traumatic Events
||“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’” ~Eve Merriam These are uncertain, turbulent times, colored as they are by fears about war and terrorism. As a result, children as well as adults are experiencing higher levels of stress. When a flu bug...
|Blood cells are new, unexpected source of neurons in crayfish
||Researchers have strived to determine how neurons are produced and integrated into the brain throughout adult life. In an intriguing twist, scientists provide evidence that adult-born neurons are derived from a special type of circulating blood cell produced by the immune system. The findings -- which were made in crayfish -- suggest that the immune system may contribute to the development of the unknown role of certain brain diseases in the development of brain and other tissues.
|Testosterone in healthy men increases their brains' response to threat
||Testosterone, a steroid hormone, is well known to contribute to aggressive behavior in males, but the neural circuits through which testosterone exerts these effects have not been clear. Prior studies found that the administration of a single dose of testosterone influenced brain circuit function. Surprisingly, however, these studies were conducted exclusively in women. Researchers have now sought to rectify this gap by conducting a study of the effects of testosterone on the brain’s response to threat cues in healthy men.
||We love to opine. Opinions express our subjective individuality and, therefore, our bias, taking us away from truth (if there is such a thing-less thing). Seung Sahn, a spunky Zen master had this “temple” rule for his followers: “To cling to your opinions is to destroy your practice. Put away...
|Eight Tips for Teaching Mindfulness in High School
||When I walked in to teach my first mindfulness class at a charter high school in Oakland, no one seemed interested. One student was sleeping in his chair; a few kids were messing around in the classroom.
Everyone looked at me like I was in the wrong place. I was nervous and not really sure what I would do. So I just started talking about stress. I asked students if they ever felt stressed, what they do when they are stressed, and asked each of them to share an experience about the last time they were stressed and how they dealt with it.
That was the right move. After teaching more than twenty 10-week introductory mindfulness courses at five different high schools over the past few years, I have learned one main lesson: you have to make mindfulness class relevant to the daily lives of students. Sports, relationships, parents, teachers, friends—if you can relate it to what the students are experiencing and they understand how it can actually be useful in their lives, you start to grab their attention. It took a few classes before we even started practicing mindfulness, because I had to first make a connection with the students—and then I had to explain why they might want to learn mindfulness.
Here are eight more lessons I’ve learned.
1. Scale it down
Classes that are smaller than 12 people are very different from class sizes of 12 or more, for the students in smaller groups are much more willing to share.
Studies of the relationship between learning and classroom size show that students perceive smaller classes as being able to foster a greater sense of belonging and togetherness, tighter relations with teachers, and more classroom participation. Classes of 12 or more are much less intimate and a bit more like typical classroom teaching.
But you can create more intimacy even with a bigger class. It helps to divide activities into small groups, or do more pair-sharing.
Of all the factors listed here, I firmly believe that class size is the most important in terms of determining what you teach and how you teach it. If you can, keep the class small.
2. Foster intrinsic motivation
If students are voluntarily taking the course, it means they actually want to be there. And this means that you have to do less work to convince them of why it is important; they are already bought in to a certain extent.
However, most of the classes I taught were compulsory. The key for teaching compulsory classes is explaining to students why you are teaching them mindfulness. Take the time to explain how this is different from other classes—no grades, no homework, more interpersonal.
Most of school and life for adolescents is extrinsically motivated. But one of the most significant differences between mindfulness classes and normal classes is that there is no external motivation to perform—the rewards are all intrinsic.
Research shows that when teachers take the time to explain the meaningfulness of what they are teaching their students are often more intrinsically motivated. The result is happier, less anxious students who are more willing to learn. This is the environment you want to set for your mindfulness classes, even if they are compulsory.
3. Start with older students
Freshman and first-semester sophomores have a lot of goofy energy and need more discipline. Doing shorter experiential exercises, like games and pair-sharing, with them is helpful. If younger students are in a larger group, then you have to move more quickly. But it is simply very difficult for the younger students to go as deep or to focus for as long.
I prefer teaching mindfulness to students starting at the end of sophomore year—and then to juniors and seniors. There is not so much goofing around when you try to do the exercises, and the relational mindfulness practices go much deeper.
4. Meet at least once a week
Meeting at least once a week is important. At some schools, we’ve needed to take two-week breaks, and I’ve found that it really disrupts the flow of the class. At one school, the schedule only permitted meeting once every ten school days. That was not working at all because there was no consistency, and it was more difficult to build up the necessary trust.
The best format is to meet with the same students twice a week—that allows for you to build up a more steady relationship with the students. And it’s better to teach an introductory class over a condensed, shorter period of time.
5. Hold 9-12 classes
I would say the absolute minimum classes would be nine (one intro, and eight full classes). However, I prefer 12 classes. The more I get to know the students, and the more conversation that we have, the deeper and more engaged the students get into the curriculum.
6. Teach in the middle of the morning
The best time to teach mindfulness is mid-morning.
Teaching first period can be tough because the students are not yet awake—and, in fact, studies show that teenagers at about age 14 learn less in the morning, thanks to shifts in their bodies. The afternoon can be tricky because students are exhausted, or they have a lot of pent up energy. If I teach right after lunch, I usually have the students lay down and rest for a few minutes before we start the class.
If it is the last class of the day, I often spend more time doing exercises and almost always go outside.
7. Consider the advantages of outside and in-house teachers
I have always taught as an outside teacher, someone who goes into a school specifically to teach mindfulness classes. This has a few advantages:
It means I am new to the students and they do not have preconceived notions about who I am;
I am just the mindfulness teacher; I do not have to transition from teaching chemistry to mindfulness;
I have more energy to teach since I teach a limited number of classes.
Being an in-house teacher also has advantages. You already know the students and hopefully have trust built up. The students will know your behavior—teenagers are very perceptive—so if you are teaching mindfulness to teens you have to embody this at school even when you are not teaching mindfulness classes. In fact, that is likely how they will learn the most and decide if they are even willing to take it seriously.
8. Remember that you are planting seeds
Every time I finished a 10-week mindfulness class, I would wonder if it was helpful at all. Did the students get it? Are these 10 hours going to change their lives? Was I doing a good job?
Sometimes there would be direct results, like when a student would tell me how practicing something from the class changed one of her relationships or made him less angry.
But at the end of the day, I would remember: 10 hours is not much time. I am just planting seeds. If I taught students lacrosse or piano for 10 hours, I would not expect it to change their lives. But I would remember that some students can take away valuable life skills—and others, later in life, may remember something they used in class to pursue other contemplative practices or dive deeper into mindfulness.
If you can open the eyes of a student to living a more whole, introspective life with an introductory mindfulness class, that is an incredibly powerful thing.
|What's In A Name?
||What do our names mean? Why were they chosen?
|5 Habits for Successful Relationships
||Divorce rates in America suggest that about half of the people who say “I do” are unable to achieve their goal of creating a happy, long term union with their partner. The statistics are even more ominous for people who have already endured one or more divorces. Yet we know,...
|4 Tips for Helping Children with Abandonment Issues
||4 steps for raising a child who doesn’t feel emotionally stranded. Your child suffers from abandonment issues. If you are a nurturing parent, you are probably balking at this statement. Most of us associate abandonment with physical conditions, such as inadequate nourishment, inadequate clothing, physical abuse or literally leaving our...
|Contrary Mary & Denial of Mental Illness
||What therapists can learn from a client with schizophrenia, one who is in denial....