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The Science of Mindfulness Lecture

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

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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: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

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

What Members Say

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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

    114 of 115 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cluelass 07-19-15
    Cluelass 07-19-15
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    "Even more worthwhile with these study aids"

    I have been enjoying this course enormously. It presents concepts I have heard many times, but not really understood until I heard Prof. Siegel’s clear, everyday explanations. The longer audio forms of the meditation practice are available for download (free) at his website. The material in his book "The Mindfulness Solution" is basically the same as this audio course—very helpful for reviewing. I am thrilled that Audible has added these courses.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 09-20-14 Member Since 2016

    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.

    53 of 55 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 01-13-15
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 01-13-15 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    29 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    opwann 09-17-14
    opwann 09-17-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    35 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boyd 09-27-14
    Boyd 09-27-14 Member Since 2015
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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?

    36 of 39 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.

    53 of 59 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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!



    81 of 91 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 10-22-14
    Jeanette Sydney, Australia 10-22-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

    49 of 56 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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    7/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent course"

    Mindfulness helped me a lot with my anxiety
    It generates a new way of thinking and promotes happiness.The Mindfulness practices also at the end of the book are excellent to guide people with no previous experience

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • L. ESCRIBANO RODRIGUEZ
    5/13/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent with plenty of argumentation"

    For the content itself I have really appreciated the rich psychological argumentation about the different aspects that mindfulness (or simply awareness with acceptance) may be related. About the reading, I think it only needs some refined editing to correct those parts when the reader stumbles. At the same time, as it is it keeps a bit of the conversational style that some may like. Regarding reading speed you can check by yourself with the sample but I can say I have listened to this at 1.25x speed for the first quarter of the book and then moved to 1.5x as I usually do without problems to follow. English is not my mother tongue so most people should find no problem to follow this audiobook and I highly recommend it if you are interested in the "awareness with acceptance" concept that I see popping up continuously in one way or another in self help books today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • bruna
    5/6/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "amazing lectures"

    I love this lectures, very entertaining but also informative. I wish all my uni prof was as attention grabing as this prof. loved it

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • R. F. Chorley
    5/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is so badly narrated..."

    The narrator speaks very quickly often tripping over his words. The content is fine but the highly staccato reading coupled with editing that introduces a large number of silent breaks between sentences makes this really hard to listen to. I'm gonna stick with it but they really should sore record this with a calmer, better spoken narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ben
    3/10/15
    Overall
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    "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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Nicky Beet
    6/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "absurd"
    Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Ronald Siegel?

    no


    Has The Science of Mindfulness put you off other books in this genre?

    no


    Which character – as performed by Professor Ronald Siegel – was your favourite?

    there were no characters


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    frustration and bemusement


    Any additional comments?

    this book is frankly a fraud
    there is little to nothing that is scientific in this book or that much in mindfulness

    this is not to say that some aspects of it do not work especially breathing techniques f one were in a panic attack.
    this could only be called scientific in a post factual world where words have little to no meaning but it is little more than a hobby horse for meditation and Buddhism 7which has no scientifically valid proof to back it up so its hard to see how it could be in any way scientific

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Malcolm Russell
    South Africa
    3/6/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Life changing "

    All round excellence... Only sadness is completing the listen. But the real joy...? Starting again! Thank you

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adisha
    United Kingdom
    11/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent lecture series!"

    Packed full of information and insights - I thoroughly enjoyed this very well presented course.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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