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Books on Mindfulness


Recommended Reading​

First Readings​

  • Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation by Larry Rosenberg
  • The Magnanimous Heart: Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation by Narayan Helen Liebenson
  • What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
  • Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield
  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thích Nhất Hạnh
  • Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg
  • A Still Forest Pool by Ajahn Chah
  • Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman
  • The Four Noble Truths by Ajahn Sumedho
  • Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein

Further Readings​

  • Three Steps to Awakening by Larry Rosenberg
  • Living in the Light of Death by Larry Rosenberg
  • The Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree by Ajahn Buddhadasa
  • Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana
  • A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • Food for the Heart by Ajahn Chah
  • Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Stepping out of Self-Deception by Rodney Smith
  • The Mind and the Way by Ajahn Sumedho
  • Don’t Take Your Life Personally by Ajahn Sumedho
  • When Awareness Becomes Natural by Sayadaw U Tejaniya
  • Mindfully Facing Disease and Death by Bhikkhu Anālayo
  • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thích Nhất Hạnh
  • Pure & Simple by Upasika Kee Nanayon

‘Grief is alive, wild, untamed’: How to support a partner who’s lost a loved one


Psychotherapist Megan Devine, who wrote “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” after losing her partner, Matt, said it’s important to meet the grieving person where they’re at.

You want to support them — not try to rid them of their difficult feelings. “We know on some level we can’t make this go away, but we are going to try, and that makes things come out sideways,” Devine told me. You absolutely can’t fix this for your partner, which should take some of the pressure off.

What you should do is accept their feelings, even if you don’t understand them. “The most powerful thing we can do is just bear witness without moving people from where they are,” said grief and trauma therapist Ajita Robinson.

“If I Wasn’t Poor, I Wouldn’t Be Unfit”: The Family Separation Crisis in the US Child Welfare System


"It is time to reimagine the child welfare system."

Key Recommendations​

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on federal, state, and local governments to take the following steps to reduce the harmful impact of child welfare interventions and strengthen and support families and communities to prevent child maltreatment:
  • Hold public hearings, including congressional hearings, to hear from families who are affected by the child welfare system.

  • Narrow the definition of child abuse and neglect. Prohibit the treatment of poverty-related circumstances, lack of financial resources, or substance use by parents or during pregnancy, without actual or imminent risk of harm, as factors that can trigger child welfare interventions.

  • Eliminate mandatory reporting requirements. Replace universal, centralized, and anonymous mandatory reporting with permissive, confidential, and decentralized reporting; give reporters and responding agencies the option to refer families directly to services in lieu of the government child welfare agency; and maintain records about the administration of this direct referral process separate from agencies responsible for investigating and evaluating allegations of child abuse or neglect.

  • Adopt a universal right for parents to quality pre- and post-petition counsel. Ensure the right attaches upon first contact with child welfare authorities and support contemporaneous provision of social work and support services to address immediate and collateral issues prompting child welfare concerns.

  • Require agencies to inform parents and children of their rights upon first contact to remain silent, to speak to a lawyer, and to refuse entry into the home absent an emergency or court order.

  • Prohibit drug testing of parents and pregnant people without prior written, voluntary, and informed consent or pursuant to court order.Legislatively create a right to decline a drug test unless ordered by a court. Prohibit caseworkers or courts from drawing any adverse inferences from the exercise of the right. Prohibit a parent’s drug treatment plans from being used against them in child welfare proceedings.

  • Require states to engage in “active efforts” to maintain family unity. In particular, require that child welfare agencies meaningfully assess and address:
    • Poverty-related barriers to reunification for child-welfare-involved parents, including the provision of financial support for transportation and costs associated with visitation, court hearings, mandated services, and other meetings.

    • Barriers to reunification for child-welfare-involved parents with problematic substance use. Refer parents to supportive, non-coercive, evidence-based services focused on harm reduction for substance use disorders, ensure parents have unimpeded access to quality substance use disorder treatment, and allow adequate time for relapse.
  • Improve data collection at federal, state, and local levels. Regularly publish data that can be disaggregated and commission expert studies on intersectional, persistent racial disparities in the child welfare system.

  • Acknowledge and meaningfully redress institutionalized racism and settler colonialism in child welfare policies and practices.

Anti-inflation, Pro-savings thread


As it turns out, consumers might be the guilty party in the inflation mystery. We've at least been aiding and abetting. "Inflation is coming from demand," says Wolfers.

In spite of inflation, demand hasn't really blinked. Companies have been raising prices and we have been paying them. In fact, in many parts of the economy, spending has been rising right along with prices.

We're not necessarily buying more because we have more money, though. Our collective savings has been shrinking and household debt has been on the rise. It's possible we're spending money we don't have to keep up with rising prices.

That is likely not sustainable. And when our buying slows down, Wolfers says, companies will start lowering prices to entice us to buy: Prices will fall and inflation will ease. But, until demand drops, companies will push prices up as much as they can. It's elementary.

7 Things to Thrive


You Need These 7 Things to Thrive, Research Says​

By Dr. Ryan Niemiec

Do you feel like you’re thriving-really thriving-or are you just going through the motions every day? Do you bounce back quickly from adversity and problems, and feel strong physically and psychologically? If you don’t feel like you’re truly thriving yet, the latest research can help you get there.

In a recent study, researchers reviewed what was known about how human beings thrive. They examined personal factors and environmental factors. Here are the main seven personal factors, or enablers of thriving, that they discovered. These are parts of yourself that you can attend to and improve upon, so you can move from surviving to fully thriving.

7 Things You Need To Thrive​

1. Positive perspective: “I see the good in the future.” Research shows that having hopeful future expectations, an optimistic attitude, and positive views of your future are linked with greater thriving. This approach helps you cope with stress and adversity by sticking with activities or tasks rather than quitting or avoiding.

Character strengths: The central strength here is hope, which means to look positively toward the future, to set your goals, and to feel confident you can reach them. Researchers also link this to being honest about one’s values. Honesty might be considered a secondary character strength here, meaning you have integrity with your values, practice what you preach, and are authentic along the journey forward.

2. Religiosity and spirituality: “I am connected with the universe in a meaningful way.” For some people, religious coping, faith, a relationship with a higher power, and having a spiritual community are connected with thriving. Other research has shown the importance of practicing one’s religion/spirituality, as opposed to merely having a religion.

Character strengths: The strength of spirituality is broadly viewed as having a sense of meaning and purpose in life, which may or may not include formal religion. Personal practices such as meditation and prayer, spending time in nature, and reflecting on the universe are sources of spiritual sustenance for many. When this is connected with other people in community, other strengths emerge such as gratitude, and the gateway to thriving may widen further.

3. Proactive personality: “I try to challenge myself.” Proactive people seek out opportunities to be challenged. This is an internal desire you feel when you want to pursue something and to challenge yourself. One example found in research is teachers who engage in purposeful career decision-making; they are more likely to thrive.

Character strengths: Facing challenges and obstacles is the work of the bravery and perseverance strengths. In addition, I have observed that when I am proactive in pursuing a new work project, I tap into my zest strength while maintaining levels of self-regulation strength to take on the right task and not take on too much. No doubt when you are being proactive you are using more than one character strength in that effort.

4. Motivation: “I am motivated to grow.” Research shows people are motivated by their naturally occurring strengths, talents, and interests. These serve as sparks for fueling interest, growth, and learning. Thriving in the workplace is connected with work that is meaningful.

Character strengths: Curiosity and love of learning are central to our pursuit of knowledge, ideas, and the development of new skills. Individuals can turn to their highest strengths–signature strengths–as a central source of personal motivation to take action in relationships, work, or play.

5. Knowledge and learning: “I learn, therefore I know.”
Research shows the desire and commitment to learning is important to thriving not just for certain people but across groups of people.

Character strengths: Here researchers suggest a number of strengths that have been found to support thriving under hardship in academic and vocational domains. These include creativity, perspective, appreciation of excellence, and especially love of learning.

6. Psychological resilience: “I overcome, rise up, and benefit from my struggles.” When stress and adversity arise, those who thrive are able to be flexible and adaptable and even benefit from the problem. The idea here is to move beyond surviving to thriving. Extra workloads, colleague difficulties, new demands–these become sources not to overcome and “ride out” but to benefit from.

Character strengths: What helps you become more resilient? In researching this area I’ve found links between all 24 character strengths and resilience. The strength with the most immediate resonance would be perseverance–the capacity to keep going, to overcome obstacles. Other important strengths include hope, gratitude, forgiveness, spirituality, curiosity, and kindness.

7. Social competence: “It matters that I connect with others.” An important enabler of thriving is to access others, connect with them, and benefit from their social support. The building of social competence matters here, such as skills of peaceful conflict resolution, awareness and appreciation of other cultures, and interpersonal skills.

Character strengths: The strength of social intelligence helps us assess situations and people, and respond appropriately. It serves us in sensing what is going on within both ourselves and others and to share those feelings in the spirit of cooperation or connection. Also important here is the strength of love which involves bonding with others, being warm and genuine with them, and giving/receiving that caring support. The justice-oriented character strengths of leadership, fairness, and teamwork are important for building social competence.

References​

Brown, D. J., Arnold, R., Fletcher, D., & Standage, M. (2017). Human thriving A conceptual debate and literature review. European Psychologist, 22(3), 167–179. DOI: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000294

When Sadness Lingers

When Sadness Lingers​

Understanding and Treating Depression

En español
A person looking sad and staring out of the window


It’s normal to feel sad, down, or low at times. But these feelings can sometimes linger. They can get worse, too, eventually making it hard to do basic daily tasks. If you’ve had a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities for at least two weeks, you may be experiencing depression.

Depression is a serious disorder. “It’s not some-thing that you can just ‘push through,’ or get through without help,” says Dr. Kymberly Young, a mental health researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

Depression isn’t caused by a single thing. Some people’s genes put them at risk for depression. Stressful situations may trigger depression. Examples include money problems, the loss of a loved one, or major life changes. Having a serious illness like cancer or heart disease can also lead to depression. And depression can make such illnesses worse.

People may experience depression during pregnancy or after giving birth. This is called perinatal depression. Others feel depressed during certain seasons, most often in winter. This is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Regardless of what’s causing depression, treatments are available that can help many people feel better. And researchers are working on new options for those who need them.

Treatment Options​

Depression can look different for different people. But there are some common symptoms (see the Wise Choices box). If you think you may be depressed, talk with your health care provider. Some infections or medical conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your provider can perform a physical exam and blood tests to look for possible causes.

If you have mild depression, your provider may recommend you first try counseling or talk therapy. “Therapy helps people learn how to get out of a hopeless state by viewing the world and themselves differently,” says Dr. Michelle Craske, who studies depression at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Some lifestyle changes may help you feel better during treatment. Try to get some physical activity every day and eat regular, healthy meals. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. Keep a regular sleep schedule. And stay connected to people who support you.

People with more severe depression may benefit from medication as well as therapy. “We have drugs that, in many people, work really well,” says Dr. Todd Gould, who tests new treatments for depression at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Depression-fighting drugs and therapy sometimes work better together.

However, these drugs, called antidepressants, can take many weeks to start working. And there’s no way to know if they’ll work ahead of time. You may have to try more than one drug, or a combination of drugs, to find something that will work for you. For some people, these types of drugs can have serious side effects that may require close monitoring.

Persistent Depression​

For certain people, depression persists despite counseling and medication. This is called treatment-resistant depression.

Brain stimulation therapies may help some people with treatment-resistant depression. These use electricity or magnets to directly change brain activity.

For people who don’t feel better after trying at least two standard drugs, a drug called ketamine may be an option. Ketamine is usually injected into a vein. A type of ketamine that’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat depression, called esketamine, is sprayed into the nose.

“There are two exciting aspects of ketamine treatment,” says Gould. “One is that it’s fast acting.” It can make people feel better within hours. “The other is that it works in some people who don’t respond to any other medications.”

The downside of ketamine treatment is its side effects, Gould says. You may feel strange, woozy, or spacey during treatment. Some people can even experience dissociation, which is an out-of-body experience.

Gould is testing compounds made by the body when it breaks down ketamine as potential new treatments. “Our hope is that these compounds will have the same rapid antidepressant effect that ketamine does, but without the side effects,” he says.

Testing New Therapies​

Researchers have also been working on new types of talk therapy for depression. Craske’s team is testing a type of therapy designed to help people focus on joy, excitement, and other positive moods.

“Standard treatments are better at reducing negative emotions than increasing positive emotions,” she says. But people with depression often have the most trouble feeling positive things.

“We’re trying to build your capacity to focus on and appreciate positive parts of your life,” Craske says. “And in our early studies it’s been remarkably effective.”

Young and her team are using a technique called neurofeedback to help people with depression try to enjoy positive emotions and memories. The technique teaches people to directly control activity in different parts of their brain.

“Activity in certain brain areas is what allows you to use positive memories in a healthy way,” Young says. Real-time imaging lets you watch blood flow to different brain areas. “We then teach you to make part of the brain more active when you’re recalling positive memories.” This activity makes the memories feel positive.

Craske and others are also interested in preventing depression before it develops. “That would mean starting at a very young age. But preventing the onset of depressed mood would have far more impact than treatment,” she says.

Studies suggest that teaching skills like mindfulness may help prevent depression in kids at high risk. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present and on what’s going on inside and around you without judgment. Craske’s team is testing an app to teach teens such skills to manage intense negative emotions.

If you’re struggling with depression, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, says Young. “We’ve moved past the days of ‘we don’t talk about depression.’”

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