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Get bimonthly emails with skillful means – from psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice – for personal well-being, relationships, work, and spiritual development.
The Wise Brain Bulletin is published bimonthly (6 times a year) by the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and edited by Michelle Keane.
The Bulletin offers skillful means – from psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice – for personal well-being, relationships, work, and spiritual development. Each issue contains major articles as well as lots of nuggets about the brain, inspiring quotes, links to awe-inspiring pictures and websites, and much more.
You are also invited to contribute to it yourself. You retain the copyright, and we will happily highlight your own work or organization. To submit an article, please email the Bulletin editor, Michelle Keane.
(To read a Bulletin, click on one of the links below, which will open the issue as a pdf. If you need a free copy of Acrobat Reader to read pdf files, you can download it here.)
Volume 14,1 – Communication skills for restoring and maintaining togetherness. Poem: Even in the struggle. Conversations with teenagers: coping with anxiety and depression. Skillful means: developing an inner guide. (Read online) (Download PDF version)
Volume 11,6 – Neuromeditation. Poem: A Love Story. Gratitude meditation. Scavenger hunting. Skillful means: easy rest.
Volume 11,5 – Ghosts. Poem: Gifts of the Rain Puddle. Understanding regression. Skillful means: overcoming anxious thoughts.
Volume 11,4 – The Mindfulness Movement. Poem: The Gospel of Arrival. Intimacy and Mindfulness. Skillful means: concentration.
Volume 11,3 – How culture patterns our thought. Poem: Someday. Healing the body with the mind. Skillful means: the 8-circuit model of consciousness.
Volume 11,2 – Coping with challenging emotions. Poem: Weather. The “OCD Mind.” Skillful means: clarifying emotions.
Volume 11,1 – Learning the language of consciousness. Poem: People Passing. Spiritual emergence. Skillful means: mountain meditation.
Volume 10,6 (12/16) – Mindful games. Prejudice in us all: a reflection on the recent US election. A poem about meditation. A story of non-dual awakening. Awe and resilience. Mindfulness of sounds.
Volume 10,5 (10/16) – The mindful leader. Choosing connection. Mindful eating. Skillful means: emotional validation.
Volume 10,4 (8/16) – Awareness of being. The price of protection. Healthy meditation practice. Skillful Means: three good things exercise.
Volume 10,3 (6/16) – The Universe and “oneness.” Moving on. Making friends with emptiness. Skillful Means: Letting Go.
Volume 10,2 (4/16) – Downtime for your brain. Healing with mindfulness. Skillful Means: Mindfulness of Sounds Meditation.
Volume 10,1 (2/16) – Cultivating awe. Refuge and healing. Overcoming “Us versus Them.” Skillful Means: Emotional Awareness Meditation.
Volume 9,6 (12/15) – Hacking the brain for healing and well-being. A perfect balance. Loss and impermanence. Skillful Means: Mindful Pause.
Volume 9,5 (10/15) – Emotional coherence as a path to inner freedom. A different kind of inner trip. Mindfulness and sustainability. A foundation of well-being: sustaining attention experiential activity.
Volume 9,4 (8/15) – Living well with chronic pain and illness. Positive neuroplasticity. Rediscovering the joy of life. Skillful Means: Affirmations.
Volume 9,3 (6/15) – Healing childhood wounds. Stillness and flow. Mindfulness and numbers. Skillful Means: Self-Advocacy.
Volume 9,2 (4/15) – A contemplative approach to care for the dying. The field of connection. Forgiveness and healing. A foundation of well-being: self-caring experiential activity. On “wanting.” Skillful Means: building your social support network.
Volume 9,1 (2/15) – Systematic treatment of trauma. Already-ness. The centrality of human connections – even at work. Skillful Means: activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Volume 8, 6 (12/14) – Neurodharma: practicing with the brain in mind. Meditation and enhancing cognition. A quiz about meeting your core needs.
Volume 8, 5 (10/14) – Mindfulness tools for teens. The coyote’s path. Delusion and non-delusion. Wellspring Institute fall fundraiser.
Volume 8, 4 (8/14) – A philosophy of emptiness. Musings on time. Letting passion be your guide.
Volume 8, 3 (6/14) – Cultivating a calm mind for emotional overeaters. An ode to a mother and taking in the good. Executive coaching and positive neuroplasticity. Wellspring Institute Spring fundraiser.
Volume 8, 2 (4/14) – Mindful conversations in relationships. Neuroplasticity rhymes. Attuned eating. Acting with intention. Wellspring Institute Spring fundraiser.
Volume 8, 1 (2/14) – Communication skills, including for strengthening teamwork between parents. Surrendering the heart. The building blocks of love. Gottman’s Marriage Tips.
Volume 7, 6 (12/13) – The pursuit of self-love and awakening the joy within. Awareness at the “13th hour.” Growing inner strengths in the garden of the mind.
Volume 7, 5 (10/13) – Finding inner strength and peace in recognizing the profound truth of impermanence, that things continually change – including our sense of “self.” A lovely poem on the beauty and power in “not knowing.” The primal emotion of fear, and how to rides its waves with wisdom and grace.
Volume 7, 4 (8/13) – Optimizing your brain with exercise. An ‘ode’ to the lizard brain. Projective dream work and the cultivation of compassion.
Volume 7, 3 (6/13) – The neuroscience of resilience; practical, brain-savvy ways to develop coping mechanisms. Using the science of “meaning” and ACT to develop purpose and value-driven action. A “good memory” story. The healing power of kindness and self-compassion.
Volume 7, 2 (4/13) – The neuroscience of resilience; practical, brain-savvy ways to develop calm, clarity, and competence. Compassionate presence in our school systems. Emotional journaling.
Volume 7, 1 (2/13) – Research on love and kindness; the role of oxytocin; building trust; ways to increase lovingkindness. Mindful eating; mindfulness as an inner nutrient. Awareness of Thoughts.
Volume 6, 6 (12/12) – Special Holiday Edition. On relationship as the heart of Christian contemplative practice. Compassion as the natural expression of a joyful heart. From the Skillful Means wiki: Self Inquiry. The Wellspring Institute Winter Fund Drive, and Compassion and Joy workshop.
Volume 6, 5 (10/12) – Foundations of Mindfulness and Compassion and Assertion, excerpted from Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, PhD. From the Skillful Means wiki: Seeing Goodness in Others. The Wellspring Institute Winter Fund Drive, and Compassion and Joy workshop.
Volume 6, 4 (8/12) – Wellspring Institute founder, Rick Hanson on emotional reactivity and methods to find stillness and peace of mind. Photography by Christa Gallopoulos. From the Skillful Means wiki: Equanimity Meditation and Emotional Awareness Meditation. The Wellspring Institute Winter Fund Drive, and Compassion and Joy workshop.
Volume 6, 3 (6/12) – Using findings from neuroscience and studies on meditation, Wellspring Institute’s Michael Hagerty on using the eyes to bring stillness to the mind, with video exercises. Terry Patten of the Wellspring Institute on supernormal stimuli in modern day life and the importance of choice, self-compassion and awareness. Photography by Christa Gallopoulos. From the Skillful Means wiki: Progressive Relaxation and Self-Compassion Pause.
Volume 6, 2 (4/12) – Spring color edition, with photography by Christa Gallopoulos. An excerpt from The Mindful Manifesto by Dr. Jonty Heaversedge and mindfulness teacher Ed Halliwell on Mindfulness of Body. Extended essay on LENS Neurofeedback and rebooting the brain. From the Skillful Means wiki: Mindful Pause and Neurofeedback Training.
Volume 6, 1 (2/12) – An excerpt from Just One Thing by Rick Hanson, PhD on Self-Compassion. Appreciative Joy and Envy. The Wellspring Institute Winter Fund Drive and Your Best Brain workshop. An excerpt from The Now Effect, by Elisha Goldstein, PhD. Skillful Means: Disputing Negative Thoughts.
Volume 5, 11 (11/11) – Mindfulness and Twelve Step Recovery. The Wellspring Institute Winter Fund Drive and Your Best Brain workshop. Therapeutic mindfulness in dementia care. Skillful Means: Do Nothing Meditation and Easy Rest.
Volume 5, 10 (10/11) – The neuro-chemical reality when faced with a new or unfamiliar situation; how to notice a fight-or-flight response and migrate to a calm, centered space from which to investigate the unchartered territory. Psoma Yoga – the integration of mindfulness and sustained awareness in movement and the Hakomi method of psychotherapy; methods to embrace change and alleviate suffering via attachment. Skillful Means: Grounding and Basic Relaxation Meditation.
Volume 5, 9 (9/11) – The executive functions of the brain and their role in learning, academic achievement, and a child’s sense of worth – and how to help children develop them. Mindfulness as an aid in recovering from traumatic brain injury. Skillful Means: full body awareness, and autohypnosis.
Volume 5, 7-8 (7-8/11) – On the importance of slowing down the ‘consumer treadmill’; using mindfulness to address climate change. The practice of Qigong – which has roots in Traditional Chinese medicine, philosophy and martial arts – and its role in stress-reduction. Skillful means for transforming anxiety from the Skillful Means wiki of the Wellspring Institute. Poems from Tara Sophia Mohr.
Volume 5, 6 (6/11) – A child’s natural stream of consciousness; methods for teaching mindfulness to children. How the path to forgiveness means taking the road back to where we were as a young child. Resources for parents via NurtureMom.com.
Volume 5, 4-5 (4-5/11) – A double issue on a very large subject: motherhood. Six articles explore: the challenges of raising a family in modern society; how a mother can become depleted; ways to take good care of a mother and a father; the real gift of parenting.
Volume 5, 3 (3/11) – Using mindfulness methods for people (particularly children) with Asperger’s Syndrome. Stress and your nervous system – and clever, practical methods that are shortcuts to calm and well-being. Beautiful quotes on inner and outer peace.
Volume 5, 2 (2/11) – Using mindfulness practices for depression. Authentic willingness – the foundation of healing and growth. “Transitions” – the poetry of impermanence.
Volume 5, 1 (1/11) – On the neuroscience of positive parenting in raising or educating children (also of interest when looking back on our own childhood). An excerpt on mindfulness from Living This Life Fully – a book on Munindra, the Bengali meditation master who had a significant influence on many Western Buddhist teachers.
Volume 4, 11-12 (12/10) – Holiday color edition – with original artwork – on the power of imagery to help us weather a storm – be it physical or metaphysical.
Volume 4, 10 (10/10) – An in-depth look at what it means to be a workaholic versus a mindful worker. Tools and resources for mindfulness in our professional lives. Calming the inner guard dog.
Volume 4, 8-9 (9/10) – A look at the relationship between the gastrointestinal system and the immune system – and how this relationship affects the brain; the role of diet and medication and the influence of external factors such as stress.
Volume 4, 7 (7/10) – How to support your well-being even when you are ill (or are dealing with other difficult conditions) using tonglen, the Tibetan practice that “turns straw into gold.” Starting an interfaith group: building bridges of connection after 9/11 to help bring peace to the brain’s ancient tendency to separate “us” and “them” as the prelude to fear and aggression toward “them.”
Volume 4, 6 (6/10) – The neuropsychology of resilience – with numerous effective practices – grounded in a deep model of the integrating functions of the prefontal cortex.
Volume 4, 4-5 (5/10) – An exploration of what mind, brain and God could be, how they may interact, and what studies on the neuropsychology of moral or spiritual experiences can and cannot tell us. Practical tools from a combination of mindfulness perspectives and grounded wisdom to help your kids heal from fear and pain.
Volume 4, 3 (3/10) – Moving beyond “masculine” and “feminine” in the brain; two distinct modes of being linked to two different neural networks (medial and lateral). Ways to practice and deepen mindfulness.
Volume 4, 2 (2/10) – The benefits and pitfalls of applying neuroscience to psychotherapy (and to personal growth and spiritual practice in general): The benefits of offering an organizing framework, increasing individual motivation, highlighting the most useful ideas and methods, and suggesting new tools; the pitfalls of over-simplifying, claiming authority, and underestimating the mind itself.
Volume 4, 1 (1/10) – An exploration of how mindful empathy can help us hold and heal the sense of failure, rejection, and shame that catches us in the suffering of the belief that we are bad or unlovable. Practical advice for concentration. The Brain in a Bucket.
Volume 3, 12 (12/09) – The deep embedding of the brain and the mind in nature; modern reflections on the ancient practice of vision questing; the wholesome use of power. The power of intention in couples; key intentions; drawing on both top-down influences from the prefrontal cortex and bottom-up motivation from the limbic system. Thinking outside the box – and beyond it.
Volume 3, 11 (11/09) – Relaxing the Self [excerpt from Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom]: The conventional notion of the self – “me, myself, and I” – is that it is the unified, enduring, and independent owner of experiences and agent of actions. Yet in the brain, the opposite is actually the case! There, representations of self, self-related functions, and even the elemental sense of subjectivity are distributed and compounded (not unified), variable and transient (not enduring), and come and go based on changing conditions (not independent). The chapter concludes with a number of practical ways to take things less personally, relax possessiveness, and feel more at one with and at peace with all things.
Volume 3, 10 (10/09) – The Self-Transforming Brain [excerpt from Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom]: The historically unprecedented intersection of brain science and contemplative practice; the relationship between the mind and brain; suffering as a result of evolution; the power of using your mind to change your brain to change your mind; being on your own side: if you can change your brain, you can change your life.
Volume 3, 9 (9/09) – Healing and transformation through the lens of nature and neuroscience. Stress, creativity, and brain science. The neuroscience of leadership. Words of wisdom on love and change. Stunning pictures and videos of transience and renewal.
Volume 3, 8 (8/09) – What is nondual awareness? The interpersonal neuropsychology of laughter. Recovering from a stroke or other malady: healing in the midst of adversity. Zen Master Dogen on “The Time Being.”
Volume 3, 7 (7/09) – Mindful motherhood. ADHD and mindfulness. Your brain on Starbucks. A shout-out for the people of Iran.
Volume 3, 6 (6/09) – Mindfulness and the environment; being present in yur own world. The psychology of financial well-being. Nutritional supports for memory. Emily Dickinson on the brain and God. Extraordinary technology – and none at all.
Volume 3, 5 (5/09) – Making good use of all of the world’s enlightened wisdom; the integral perspective. Integral life practice. The three faces of spirit. Stroke and the family: healing into possibility.
Volume 3, 4 (4/09) – Eddies in the stream: how physical and mental phenomena have the same deep nature as swirling and dispersing patterns in a ground that is effectively unconditioned and free; how the quieting of mental eddies in the approach to Nirvana could explain some of its profundity. Skillful ways to deal with stress and trauma, using the mind-body connection; many practical tools. Pantoum on neurodharma. Eddies in space.
Volume 3, 3 (3/09) – Spinning on uncertain ground: creativity, uncertainty, spiritual practice, and our currently wobbly times. The power of intention: how to use the neuroaxis in your brain to establish powerful intentions and sustain the commitment to see them come true. The union of modern science and ancient wisdom.
Volume 3, 2 (2/09) – The hard parts of motherhood amidst the rewards: the stresses, depletion, health risks, relationship issues – and how to nurture the body, mind, and intimate relationships of a mother. Deep teachings about your true nature. Great videos of people “going for it.”
Volume 3, 1 (1/09) – Love! Balancing intimacy and autonomy; feeling it’s safe to be “me” supports being “we”; helping yourself speak your truth. The Great Love. Words of wisdom: heart to heart. Bubbles in outer space – light-years across.
Volume 2, 12 (12/08) – Stories and your brain. The soul of parenting. Seeing over the edge. Celebration. At home on Mars.
Volume 2, 11 (11/08) – Understanding the four kinds of “self” in the brain. Oxytocin: how it helps you. Wisdom for: “no self, no problem.” Book review: “Beyond Happiness.” Awe-inspiring pics and videos: humanity is a small frog in a very big pond.”
Volume 2, 10 (10/08) – In • Spiration: Creativity and the brain in art and poetry. The art of teaching. Neuroscience perspectives on spiritual practices: strengths and weaknesses.
Volume 2, 9 (9/08) – Your brain in mystical transport: an EEG study of a meditator in the 8 jhanas (samadhis). Reflections on aging and renewal. Elephants painting and other joys.
Volume 2, 8 (8/08) – Practicing with perception, delusion, and reality: the implications of knowing what’s forever unknowable.
Volume 2, 7 (7/08) – The neuroscience of intimate connections. Phillip Moffitt’s new book. A fresh take on Dr. Jill Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight.
Volume 2, 6 (6/08) – A wounded brain. Uprooting chronic worries. Affirmations and self-esteem. A Stroke of Insight (book review).
Volume 2, 5 (5/08) – Peace of Mind; the limbic system, equanimity, and breaking the chain of suffering. Consciousness of beauty. Emotional balance in intimate relationships.
Volume 2, 4 (4/08) – The brain in lust and love: bonding, dopamine, oxytocin, and the dark side of romance. Balancing joining and separation. Lovingkindness for the whole world. Caring for the dying: a lawyer’s view.
Volume 2, 3 (3/08) – Two wolves in the heart: The evolution of empathy and aggression, of “us” and “them.” From anger to peace. The biochemistry of feeling strong.
Volume 2, 2 (2/08) – The neurology of awareness and self: Darwinian and nondual perspectives, and tools for transcendence of the “self.” The evolution of awareness. Nondual perspectives on awareness. Taking the body for a walk. The neurology of self. Evolutionary origins of self. Transcending the self.
Volume 2, 1 (1/8) – The power of good intentions, from neurological, contemplative, and practical perspectives. Research on meditation. Great quotations on charting your course.
Volume 1, 12 (12/07) – Gratitude. Generosity from an evolutionary and contemplative perspective.
Volume 1, 11 (11/07) – Your wonderful brain: summary of features and activities. The enlightenment factor of investigation.
Volume 1, 10 (10/07) – Is the “mind-body problem” a problem at all? Empathy. Methylation and mood.
Volume 1, 9 (6/07) – Estrogen and the menopausal brain. Coping with loss (Part 2)
Volume 1, 8 (5/07) – Coping with Loss: Implications of Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom (Part 1)
Volume 1, 7 (5/07) – Smile like the Buddha. Your biochemical foundation.
Volume 1, 6 (4/07) – Relaxed and contented (Part 2). Three neurological vignettes on “reality.” Amino acid stress relief.
Volume 1, 5 (4/07) – Relaxed and contented: Activating the parasympathetic wing of your nervous system (Part 1). Neurology of feeling strong. Food allergies and the nervous system.
Volume 1, 4 (3/07) – The perfection of wisdom. Smell and memory. Hormones and neurotransmitters.
Volume 1, 3 (3/07) – Seven facts about the brain that incline the mind to joy. Optical illusions. Inner clocks. Natural treatments for depressed mood.
Volume 1, 2 (2/07) – The two wings of psychological growth and contemplative practice. Help for insomnia.
Volume 1, 1 (1/07) – Generosity. Good nutrition.
Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.
The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.
She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.
Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.
In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.
Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.
Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.
He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.
Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.
Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.
Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.
Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.
Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.
Rick Hanson, PhD is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 29 languages and include Neurodharma, Resilient, Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture – with 900,000 copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 215,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial need. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.
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