Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ellen Langer — Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness (NPR's On Being)

Ellen Langer was one of the trailblazers in seeing and researching the potential of mindfulness practice as an adjunct to psychotherapy and education. In this week's On Being podcast from NPR, host Krista Tippett speaks with Langer about her work, and about practicing mindfulness with meditation and without yoga.

Langer is the author of several influential books, especially Mindfulness and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

Ellen Langer — Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness

On Being | May 29, 2014

Social psychologist Ellen Langer's unconventional studies have long suggested what brain science is now revealing: our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something "play" rather than "work" can mean the difference between delight and drudgery. She is one of the early pioneers — along with figures like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson — in drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness, between mindfulness and health. Dr. Langer describes mindfulness as achievable without meditation or yoga — as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”

Photo by Kris Krug - Dr. Ellen Langer presents at PopTech's annual conference at Camden, Maine, where she discussed the illusion of control, perceived control, successful aging, and decision-making.



Voices on the Radio

Ellen Langer is a social psychologist and a professor in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. Her books include Mindfulness and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.

Production Credits
  • Host/Executive Producer: Krista Tippett
  • Executive Editor: Trent Gilliss
  • Senior Producer: Lily Percy
  • Technical Director: Chris Heagle
  • Associate Producer: Mariah Helgeson

Like-Minded Conversations

Jon Kabat-Zinn — Opening to Our Lives - Jon Kabat-Zinn has learned, through science and experience, about mindfulness as a way of life. This is wisdom with immediate relevance to the ordinary and extreme stresses of our time — from economic peril, to parenting, to life in a digital age.

Esther Sternberg — Stress and the Balance Within - The American experience of stress has spawned a multi-billion dollar self-help industry. Wary of this, Esther Sternberg says that, until recently, modern science did not have the tools or the inclination to take emotional stress seriously. She shares fascinating new scientific insight into the molecular level of the mind-body connection.

Richard Davidson — Investigating Healthy Minds - Neuroscientist Richard Davidson is revealing that the choices we make can actually “rewire” our brains. He’s studied the brains of meditating Buddhist monks, and now he’s using his research with children and adolescents to look at things like ADHD, autism, and kindness.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

A Little Bit of Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce a Lot of Pain - Even novice meditators are able to curb their pain after a few training sessions in mindfulness meditation.

Meditation and Mindfulness for All of Us: Six Questions with Sharon Salzberg - One of the pioneering teachers of Buddhist thought and meditation in the U.S. answers our in-house "wannabe" mindfulness practitioner's questions on techniques and focus, and the balance of new technologies with human connection.

Sharing Gratitude and Releasing Mindfulness - A week of gratitude for our many gifts: from Walter Rauschenbusch's gorgeous prayer to Thich Nhat Hanh's guiding dharma talk.

Danish Filmmaker Spends Year in Wisconsin Documenting Contemplative Neuroscience Research with Children and Vets in "Free the Mind" - A Q+A with Phie Ambo on meditation, contemplative neuroscience, and what she learned while making the documentary Free the Mind on neuroscientist Richard Davidson.

An Aural Hike Through the Hoh Valley Rain Forest: A Soundscape Meditation - Take this mystical aural hike into the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park to One Square Inch of Silence — and experience the chirping twitter of the Western wren and the haunting call of the Roosevelt elk.

Questioning the Science of Happiness (Infographic) - Happiness. A word that gets bandied about quite a bit lately, and for good reason. An infographic that jogs a host of questions and insights.

Mastering the Hong and the Sau - A joyous monk at a meditation center in India teaches a young journalist how to breathe, one breath at a time.

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