There is an interesting, well-written article in Time Magazine about Mindful Meditation that recently drew my attention for several reasons.

  1. This is a semester I finally have an unusually large amount of time to focus on reading, writing, reflection and research as I plan an ordered exit from Carroll Land within the next two-to-four years. There is much yet for me to do before I move on.

2. Since my Oberlin College days I have been interested in “East Asian” philosophies and religions. I recall being intrigued by Herbert Benson’s first empirical studies of the “Relaxation response”.

3. I have always admired his holiness the Dalai Lama, who holds an honorary degree from Carroll COLLEGE (WI).  Ah, the things things I remember that many here at Carroll do not know or recall since they weren’t here then:).

4.  I have been very impressed by the research and values of Richard Davidson, who shared the evolution of his research program in a well-written, thoughtful book The Emotional Life of Your BrainHere are some of his current activities.

5. I have also found of value thinking about (though I have been remiss in practicing) the ideas in Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius’s Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. I truly have been blessed to have opportunities to pursue each in my 35 years here surrounded by bright students and colleagues.

6. Some of my younger Carroll University colleagues are starting to gain well-deserved  recognition exploring these topics and building bridges across interdisciplinary areas. And, their enviable publication rate even motivates me (in my own way) to match/complement/ supplement their scholarly contributions—but at my own speed as I savor the twilight of my career here.

7.  Recently President Obama (who is visiting Waukesha, WI today which may explain the many hovering helicopters) has called for a BRAIN Initiative. Concomitantly, there is an explosion of apps and software claiming to improve thinking and to optimize brain power.

8. I have been intrigued by recent attempts to popularize and capitalize on such findings and initiatives and am contemplating doing some modest research to address their claims—particularly those that purport to improve memory, enhance happiness, and enhance one’s ability to focus.

9. I’ve always been fascinated by the too much neglected research of Ellen Langer’s creative work exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness—as she uses the terms. I found fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still struggling with believing its implications of age-reversal. Still there IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging. This merits further study.

10. So many questions to answer. Time to make some decisions and see where the research takes us.

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools.