Health

  • Mindful Consumption? Paid Member

    This week, Magnolia Pictures releases its new movie Food, Inc. in theaters across the US. The film, which follows in the footsteps of recent films like Fast Food Nation, focuses on the shadowy and unchecked food industry that has grown in the US over the past 50 years. But while the film targets the handful of large corporations that control much of what appears on the shelves of grocery stores, it also suggests that our blissful ignorance as consumers who toss frozen chicken breasts and packaged lettuce into our grocery carts, actually makes us complicit in the ugly underbelly of the multi-billion dollar food industry. I was lucky enough to catch an advanced screening of the film which manages to be simultaneously troubling and hopeful as it exposes the history and future of American's food consumption. More »
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    What's the happiest country in the world? Paid Member

    Denmark, according to author and self-described grump Eric Weiner, who relies on the Eurobarometer Survey for evidence in his opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times: More than two-thirds of Danes report being “very satisfied with their lives.” The reason? Low expectations. Apparently, the Danes don't expect much to go well and when things do, they're, well, happy: Danes have low expectations and so “year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find out that not everything is rotten in the state of Denmark,” says James W. Vaupel, a demographer who has investigated Danish bliss. If this all sounds vaguely Buddhist, Weiner thinks so, too: Though not an especially religious people, Danes would make good Buddhists. More »
  • Who's the happiest man in the world? Paid Member

    According to an opinion piece by Daniel Goleman in this morning's New York Times ("Sitting Quietly, Doing Something"), Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is. And the reason is no secret: So how did he get that way? Apparently, the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice. Buddhist meditation practice, that is. According to Goleman, Mingyur Rinpoche is an "Olympic-level meditator," logging more than 10,000 hours on the cushion. Goleman cites neuroscientist Richard Davidson's studies on meditation's effect on the brain to explain why these spiritual athletes are so cheerful. There is a strong correllation, Goleman explains, between committed meditation practice and increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with positive moods: The more lifetime hours of practice, the greater the increases tended to be. More »
  • Playing Awake! Paid Member

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    Living in the Moment with Alzheimer's Paid Member

    In "Living in the Moment" on today's New York Times Happy Days blog, Elizabeth Kadetsky describes the ways in which she has been coping with her mother's increasing dementia after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the spring of 2008. Observing her mother's growing detachment from memory, Kadetsky discovers an aspect of the illness that is central to Buddhist practice: to live with Alzheimer's is to be continuously in the present moment. The disease has caused her mother's mind to gradually let go of the pleasure and pain of the past, eventually forcing her to exist only in the present. Kadetsky writes: Today, at 69, she has less of that charisma — she has been diagnosed with the disease in its early to middle stages. But she has at least as much of a quality that I, earlier, modeled myself on, and later came to admire in her: a quirky, rather peculiar nature that could be summarized as an insistence on living in the moment. More »
  • More on mindfulness & Buddhism Paid Member

    A few days back I blogged about a Washington Post article that discussed mindfulness's uses in dealing with diseases like cancer ("It's mindfulness but is it Buddhism? Does it matter?"). Given the number of comments and a few mentions on other blogs (our friend the Rev. Danny Fisher's, to name one), I invited B. Alan Wallace to comment. More »