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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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  •  
    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

    56 of 56 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?

    31 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    23 of 23 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.

    37 of 38 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

    35 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 01-13-15
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 01-13-15 Member Since 2007
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    "Mindfulness and Meditation for us Left-Brain Types"

    I am convinced that Professor Siegel's approach is really the best way to be introduced to Mindfulness. He strikes an almost perfect balance of technical explanation, philosophical background, anecdotes from his practice, and actual meditation examples.

    Frankly, the list of benefits coming from mindfulness is almost unbelievable. I say "almost" because each time Prof Siegel would discuss yet another benefit I would hear myself thinking "there is no way that is true" he would then discuss all the studies that have been done in that particular area that prove out its efficacy.

    He is clearly an expert in his field, very enthusiastic, properly self-effacing, and an excellent presenter. There is some mediation practice in-line in the lectures, but there are also full-length meditations included at the end of the course. Since I mostly listen while driving I resisted the urge to practice during the lectures.

    Frankly, after listening to the course, I think it would be very hard not to want to put it into practice yourself. I also recommend "10% Happier" by Dan Harris as an excellent companion book to this lecture series. Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete novice (and skeptic). Anything that can win over Dan and Prof Siegel has my vote.

    9 of 9 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!



    70 of 78 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Spring Mills, PA, United States 03-04-15
    Joshua Spring Mills, PA, United States 03-04-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Warning!"

    If you accept that mindfulness is a valid technique/therapy, (I do), this seems to be quite a good course. BUT, before you buy, be aware that the supplemental materials which are not included with the course are the extended versions of the mindfulness exercises which are explained and briefly demonstrated in the text.

    In my opinion, this severely diminishes the value of this course. It's not that the information isn't good, or well explained, but in my limited experience, guided meditations are very helpful, and since they were clearly part of this course originally, I feel the value is much diminished by their exclusion.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Phoenix, AZ, USA 02-25-15
    Steven Phoenix, AZ, USA 02-25-15 Member Since 2001
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    "One of the best Great Courses"
    Would you listen to The Science of Mindfulness again? Why?

    I love this course. Covers all the bases and very well presented


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend for anyone curious about mindfulness. This was extremely well done.

    2 of 2 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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr
    1/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    "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!

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Denise
    2/27/15
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    "Excellent!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Science of Mindfulness to be better than the print version?

    I've never tried to read this. Audio version is Great!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Science of Mindfulness?

    The listening! The knowledge attained! Priceless!


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

    Personality. Very enjoyable.


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

    Because I chose to listen to this book, I can actually say that the entire book moved me on a very deep level and changed my essence. It gave me a full understanding of who we are. And how to change that within us that is negative.


    Any additional comments?

    Very beneficial. Very educational, glad I invested the time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • S. Nanra
    Ealing, United Kingdom
    6/26/15
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    "Incredible humanity"

    Wonderful introduction to the topic of mindfulness. Lovingly narrated by Professor Siegel. The guided meditations aren't specially marked, but can be found in the final chapters..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sharon jeffrey
    6/1/15
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    "Thought provoking"

    a very interesting course on a subject I have been looking into. there are some good and practical tips and examples of how to develop mindfulness for yourself and others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Barbara Smart
    uk
    5/31/15
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    "this is a course that will help anybody"

    This is very educational and rewarding I will make this part of my everyday life and the meditation practice is stream the useful and guidance given is appreciated I am most thankful for this course

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sam
    3/15/15
    Overall
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    "All you need to understanding mindfulness"
    Any additional comments?

    As a mental health nurse, I found this book incredibly useful for my work. It helped me understand what the big deal was about mindfulness and Siegel narrates it so well that even I understood it. I am now able to explain to my patients why mindfulness is so useful to mental health and I'm able to share techniques with them, which has helped them in lots of situations such as to calm and even to resist urges to harm themselves. I want to continue using it and gain more insight as I am starting to feel that this is more effective than CBT.

    It was also engaging because I was able to use it and relate it to my own life. Mindfulness and the techniques in this book has empowered me to calm down my overeating and procrastinating. I'm still working own mindfulness skills but this book has made me want to continue working on it forever!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Manning
    London
    3/14/15
    Overall
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    "enjoyable useful & fascinating look at mindfulness"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes- definitelyIt could improve a friend's quality of life; helping to deal with stress they are facing (and yes I have recommended this book to friends. It would be great if audible allowed single titles to be gifted. Or single titles to be bought without signing up for a monthly subscription, even if it is easy to cancel).


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Science of Mindfulness?

    When I realised I could step back from the track that my thoughts were racing along! (helped by techniques such as slowing walking- focussing on the physical sensation of walking or breathing. As well as approaches for connecting).


    Have you listened to any of Professor Ronald Siegel’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    not yet- I'll have a look to see what else is available. He's very enjoyable to listen to; with a warm, enthusiastic and engaging voice.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Mindfulness- for a calm and clear mind


    Any additional comments?

    This audio book gives a broader context for mindfulness techniques; why they work; different situations for which they are particuarly relevant...I'm going to listen to this again in a few months!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ben
    3/10/15
    Overall
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    Story
    "Well researched, science based approach"

    I have enjoyed this course as all the evidence put forward was based on real research, and it contained plenty of instruction on how mindfulness can be applied into your everyday life.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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