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The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being | [The Great Courses]

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

Ever noticed that trying to calm down often produces more agitation? Or that real fulfillment can be elusive, despite living a successful life? Often, such difficulties stem from the human brain's hardwired tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Modern science demonstrates that this survival mechanism served the needs of our earliest ancestors, but is at the root of many problems that we face today, such as depression, compulsive and addictive behaviors, chronic pain, and stress and anxiety.
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Publisher's Summary

Ever noticed that trying to calm down often produces more agitation? That trying to change bad habits can seem impossible? Or that real fulfillment can be elusive, despite living a successful life?

Often, such difficulties stem from the human brain's hardwired tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Modern science demonstrates that this survival mechanism served the needs of our earliest ancestors, but is at the root of many problems that we face today, such as depression, compulsive and addictive behaviors, chronic pain, and stress and anxiety.

For thousands of years, people have used mindfulness practices to deal effectively with a wide range of life challenges. But how exactly does mindfulness work, in scientific terms? How can the human brain, which gives rise to so many of our problems, actually provide a solution?

We are now in the midst of an explosion of scientific research demonstrating that mindfulness practice changes both the function and the structure of the brain. Numerous studies show which parts of the brain are affected by mindfulness practice, and how these neurobiological changes benefit our minds and bodies.

Now, in the 24 fascinating lectures of The Science of Mindfulness, Professor Siegel, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School, reveals the science behind mindfulness in compelling detail and demonstrates its application to a wide range of issues - psychological, social, and medical. You'll examine the neurobiology underlying ancient practices that are now profoundly influencing the contemporary world. And you'll learn many practical ways you can use mindfulness techniques in your own life.

This playful, caring course demonstrates the effectiveness of mindfulness in responding to many of humanity's fundamental existential problems.

Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2013 The Great Courses (P)2013 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    opwann 09-17-14
    opwann 09-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Theory + Practice = Great Course"
    Where does The Science of Mindfulness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great narration. Siegel is both clear and expressive with his tone, making it easy to follow along and be 'mindful' of his lectures.

    I'm 4 chapters in, and love the use of stories, practical tips to explain theories behind mindfulness.


    What did you like best about this story?

    So far, the practical advice. It's one thing to hear someone say that you should practice putting yourself in the present moment, but it's another putting that advice into action. This course does both for you.


    What does Professor Ronald Siegel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    You can tell he's explored the mind and mindfulness meditation for a long time. He delivers the lectures with a soothing tone that manages to hold my attention -- a short one.


    Any additional comments?

    Would recommend it for anyone looking at a more 'hands-on' or book that puts theory into practice by providing you practical advice on how to work mindfulness into everyday life.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boyd 09-27-14
    Boyd 09-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Question about supplemental audio"
    Any additional comments?

    During the lectures the author refers to supplemental audio files that contain extended breathing meditations and the like. Audible.com hasn't identified the chapters which contain this content, has anyone noted which chapters contain which exercises?

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14 Member Since 2014

    I rate as follows: 5-Best of the best, 4-LOVED it, 3-LIKED it, 2-Meh, 1-Didn't like it. Fav genres: sci-fi/fantasy, fiction, science

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    "Excellent and Potentially Life-Changing"

    I listened to this course after the also-excellent Great Course, Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation. I would heartily recommend both. They cover a lot of the same ground, and even use some of the same Buddhist parables to illustrate certain points, but each has its own valuable information to share as well.

    As you can guess from the title, this course focuses more on the science that supports the benefits of mindfulness. It was really quite interesting to hear about the various studies that concretely support the tons of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of meditation. When I picked this up, I was worried that it would only be about the science, but thankfully, it's not. In fact, it could easily serve as an introductory course for anyone looking to start a mindfulness practice. It's well laid out, interesting and inspiring.

    In addition to some internet research, I've listened to Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg, the aforementioned Practicing Mindfulness course with Prof. Mark Muesse, and finally this course. All three are good introductions to meditations, although I would recommend either of the Great Courses more highly than Real Happiness. Still, none of these programs will help much without actually practicing. I finally committed to a daily meditation practice as I was listening to this course, and it really has been transformative.

    29 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 10-22-14
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 10-22-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Not finished yet but.... chapters"

    Hi I haven't finished listening but here are the meditations I found. Hope it helps.

    Chapter 25 - Breath Awareness Practice
    Chapter 26 - Breathing Together
    Chapter 27 - Loving Kindness
    Chapter 28 - Mountain Meditation
    Chapter 29 - Stepping in to Fear

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bonster 12-20-14
    bonster 12-20-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid consumer of primarily non-fiction audio books

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    "Well organized, thorough and entertaining"
    If you could sum up The Science of Mindfulness in three words, what would they be?

    Well organized, thorough and entertaining


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned many different applications of mindfulness that were not immediately apparent to me. For example, how mindfulness can be used to become comfortable with anxiety producing situations. I like that this isn't just presented in theory - there are short and longer meditations for dealing with specific things like that throughout the course.


    What about Professor Ronald Siegel’s performance did you like?

    His tone is very conversational - not stiff or rehearsed. He also puts a lot of little jokes throughout the course which keeps it light and entertaining.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The one chapter talks about using mindfulness to increase empathy. There is a suggestion that every time you interact with someone think of the whole life they have lived - that they were a child like me at one point, and have had many vulnerable moments in their life. I'm paraphrasing from memory and probably butchered it, but it's helped me to be more empathetic especially in dealing with frustrations or people that I tend to not give much attention as I go through my day.


    Any additional comments?

    I have gone back and re-listened to many of the chapters. I like that this does not need to be listened to sequentially. I wish there was a chapter list included with the book description. This is the chapter list from 'The Great Courses' website:

    1 Why Mindfulness Matters
    2 Our Troublesome Brains
    3 Informal, Formal, and Intensive Practices
    4 Who Am I - The Perils of Self
    5 Mindfulness or Psychotherapy
    6 Attention and Empathy in Relationships
    7 The Science of Compassion and Self-Compassion
    8 Tailoring Practices to Fit Changing Needs
    9 Modifying Our Brain Function and Structure
    10 Solitude - An Antidote to Loneliness
    11 Connecting with Children and Adolescents
    12 Seeing Sadness and Depression in a New Light
    13 Befriending Fear, Worry, and Anxiety
    14 Transforming Chronic Pain
    15 Placebos, Illness, and the Power of Belief
    16 Interrupting Addiction and Troublesome Habits
    17 Overcoming Traumas Large and Small
    18 Groundbreaking Mindfulness Programs
    19 The Neurobiology of Self-Preoccupation
    20 Growing Up Is Not Easy - Facing Impermanence
    21 Toward a Science of Wisdom
    22 The Promise of Enlightenment
    23 Mindful Ethics as a Path to Freedom
    24 The New Science of Happiness
    25 Bonus Meditation - Breath Awareness Practice
    26 Bonus Meditation - Loving-Kindness Practice
    27 Bonus Meditation - Mountain Meditation
    28 Bonus Meditation - Breathing Together
    29 Bonus Meditation - Stepping into Fear Bonus Meditation - Stepping into Fear

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathi 08-29-14
    Kathi 08-29-14 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

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    "The unsuspected benefits of using mindfulness!"

    Ronald Siegel, PsyD is an inspiring teacher and psychotherapist, who offers a wealth of information about a practice that has been brought to the western world from the east: mindfulness and meditation. We live such busy, conflicted lives that we often do not even dream that slowing down and tuning in to ourselves is a more effective solution than multi-tasking, working harder, or getting caught up in ever more complicated ways to try to manage it all.

    I have been privileged to attend several conferences that Dr. Siegel has given, and I found this series of lectures to be fully as exciting and useful as hearing him in "real time." He is a wonderful speaker, and he does a good job of conveying what I think might be unfamiliar to some, but when put into practice, can bring significant change to our lives.

    I feel amazed at the sheer amount of information he is able to convey in such a (relatively) short period of time in these lectures. He gives a good introduction to what mindfulness is--it's origins in Buddhist thought, along with scientific studies that are proving how helpful these methods are proving to be in today's busy, often anxious world. He talks about it's uses in daily life, medical situations and even addictions. Now that there is more evidence than ever before that chronic stress is directly connected to many medical and pain conditions, mindfulness is finding it's place especially in the medical world, as it offers an additional way to address chronic conditions.

    I like listening to The Great Courses--in fact, I have been buying and listening to them since they were produced on cassette tapes! (Hint: that was a long time ago :-) Although I have never listened to any Course that I didn't like or appreciate, this one is a 5 star winner in my opinion. It is a well-balanced combination of information, interesting anecdotes, useful ways to employ what he is talking about and he maintains a consistent level of excellence in his talks. Speaking of which, Dr. Siegel "talks" a bit rapidly--you may have to listen hard at times to get it all, but he is clearly speaking fast because he has so much information to convey. If you like listening to something that will change your life in positive ways, this is the Course to use your credit on! I *SO* recommend this!



    64 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jolly United States 01-02-15
    Jolly United States 01-02-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Very good review of meditation and its benefits"
    What did you love best about The Science of Mindfulness?

    Dr Siegel's speaking style is conversational and easy to understand. The information is well organized and clearly presented in a comprehensive series of fairly short sessions. Both the science behind what meditation physically does for the brain and body, and the behavioral and health benefits are explained, as well as useful applications for all kinds of people whether they be healthy or suffering from physical or mental illness.There are good explanations of the main types of meditation and how they may be best used for specific situations. At the end, Dr. Siegel offers several varieties of guided meditation, so you have a chance to experience personally what you have learned.


    What does Professor Ronald Siegel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Since it is a lecture series, the small book you could buy to accompany it is abbreviated compared to the spoken lectures.


    What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    •Meditation physically changes and grows areas of the brain just as exercise strengthens and builds muscles. •Different kinds of mediation work on different parts of the brain and may be used to enhance special aspects of learning and behavior. •Meditation has historically been used by with various religions, but it is not in itself religious by nature and can be practiced by anyone to enhance their physical and mental well being.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Sheen Reader 01-17-15

    virtuebooks

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    "New Skin For New Wine"

    This will provide you with a refreshing antidote for spiritual Alzheimer's. No matter where you are in life you will see new perspectives.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Flynn Cambridge, MA United States 01-17-15
    Daniel Flynn Cambridge, MA United States 01-17-15 Member Since 2015

    I am a life long learner who likes to think differently.

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    "Relaxing and inspiring"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book will exhaust every part of mindfulness and give good scientific reasons for using mindfulness.


    Any additional comments?

    It got too technical at points and was too long for me. But I got plenty of useful ideas and it helped me greatly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Cain 01-15-15
    Jeff Cain 01-15-15
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    "Packed with wisdom"

    It was a little fast.. I'm going to slow down the pace because I want to listen to it again.. There's way to much awesome info for just one listen

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr
    1/15/15
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    "Well worth it"

    A fascinating introduction to the science behind mindfulness. Some sitters may be put off thinking it attempts to high jack the spiritual dimension of mindfulness. It doesn't. Instead it provides further insight into the way we are genetically predisposed to think and react in certain ways. Science is realising the Buddha was right. It's only taken them 2500 years!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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