Research has shown how important empathy is to relationships, but there are limits to its power.
- Empathy is a useful tool that allows humans (and other species) to connect and form mutually beneficial bonds, but knowing how and when to be empathic is just as important as having empathy.
- Filmmaker Danfung Dennis, Bill Nye, and actor Alan Alda discuss the science of empathy and the ways that the ability can be cultivated and practiced to affect meaningful change, both on a personal and community level.
- But empathy is not a cure all. Paul Bloom explains the psychological differences between empathy and compassion, and how the former can "get in the way" of some of life's crucial relationships.
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The present-moment awareness that stems from mindfulness practices may be the cost-effective tool that our society needs.
- Mindfulness practices may lead to the human brain's transcendence of previously established associations that lead to racial biases.
- A mindfulness-based program, which has a myriad of benefits, may be more effective than a specific racial bias training program and may benefit BIPOC youth and police officers alike.
- Professionally known as Director X, Julien Christian Lutz of the Toronto-based mindfulness organization Operation Prefrontal Cortex believes that many young people that identify as BIPOC lash out violently due to past traumas, the hopelessness that they experience in the face of systemic racism, and other stressors that mindfulness can alleviate.
Julien Christian Lutz, Professionally Known As Director X, Design Exchange, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2019.
Credit: Ajani Charles<p>Such statistics are troubling to me for many reasons, including the fact that I am the art director for <a href="http://op-pfc.com/" target="_blank">Operation Prefrontal Cortex</a>, a Toronto-based program harnessing the power of mindfulness and meditation to help reduce incidences of gun, mass, and police violence in Toronto.</p> <p>Operation Prefrontal Cortex was co-founded by Julien Christian Lutz, professionally known as <a href="https://directorxfilms.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Director X</a>, and his longtime friend Danell Adams, after Lutz became <a href="https://youtu.be/JD-OeQOgezE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a victim of gun violence</a> in Toronto.</p><p>Lutz is known for directing high-budget, visually distinctive videos for famous artists, including but not limited to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. </p> <p>When I spoke to Lutz about what Operation Prefrontal Cortex is doing to prevent incidents like George Floyd's death, he said that "we're talking to police about it, really implementing mindfulness. And then spreading a message of what mindfulness and meditation can do for everybody. </p> <p>"We also need to see the research. From what I've seen, meditation does help reduce racial bias. So, we need to do the proper science and test it and test it again to see if these results are consistent, and if they are, well then again, it feeds right back into what we're talking about."</p> <p>I also spoke to him about the hopelessness that numerous BIPOC youth experience, especially in low-income communities in Toronto and elsewhere, due to receiving the short end of the stick that is systemic racism. </p> <p>To Lutz, "it's an impossibility to reach some kind of meaningful existence someplace where you can achieve goals and be happy if you can't see that in your world. Then you become self-destructive. And you lash outwards." </p>
Capt. Latisha Fox centers herself while learning about basic meditation techniques during an Operation Army Ready: Ready and Resilient seminar at Enduring Faith Chapel on Bagram Airfield.
Credit: Photo Credit: U.S. Army<p>In Gibson and Lueke's research, the participants were 72 white college students from a midwestern university town, 71% of whom were female. Would the study differ with a more diverse group of participants?</p><p>According to Lueke, most people tend to view their group members more positively than those outside of their in-group. So, positive associations will need to be considered in future studies with diverse participants.</p><p>"If we were to get a more diverse group of people, we would probably have to switch the measures a bit in order to most accurately figure out whether mindfulness was doing anything on an unconscious or automaticity type of level."</p><p>When I asked Lueke about his thoughts on racial biases in general, he had this to say: "It's shortcut thinking, to just automatically label somebody. And pretty much all human beings do it; it's a way of attempting to predict your environment without a lot of information. So if you don't have a lot of information, your brain will attempt to label that individual in order to try to get as much information as possible about them."</p><p>"The problem with that is, oftentimes, those inferences can be incorrect and wrong. So it does take those extra resources to disengage from all of those automatic types of evaluations and try to actually do the work to interact with that person and get to know them a little bit better." </p>
A new study of nurses shows the importance of sleep—and staying aware on the job.
- A study of nurses found that an extra 29 minutes of sleep dramatically improved job-related mindfulness.
- Nurses that reported higher mindfulness scores were 66 percent less likely to experience symptoms of insomnia.
- Roughly 70 million American adults suffer from some form of sleep disorder.
Should you "hack" your sleep pattern? | Vanessa Hill | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="13471ce395dc28a3c974ced341ca1113"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1Y-qLKZWyDs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>It shouldn't be surprising that more sleep leads to greater capacity to focus. Specifically, the nurses that reported greater sleep sufficiency, higher sleep quality, and less insomnia fared best the next day at work. The goal, however, was to track more than awareness. As Lee <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uosf-shd101320.php" target="_blank">notes</a>,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Mindful attention is beyond just being awake. It indicates attentional control and self-regulation that facilitates sensitivity and adaptive adjustment to environmental and internal cues, which are essential when providing mindful care to patients and effectively dealing with stressful situations."</p><p>In a sort of feedback loop, the nurses that reported higher mindfulness scores were 66 percent less likely to experience symptoms of insomnia. About <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/almost-one-third-americans-sleep-fewer-six-hours-night-180971116/" target="_blank">one-third of American adults</a> sleep less than six hours per night. <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/insomnia-brain-health" target="_self">Problems</a> ranging from cognitive decline and weight gain to automobile accidents and immune system issues result from too little sleep. </p><p>If car crashes are more likely when drivers aren't sleeping enough, just think of the number of workplace accidents—an especially harrowing prospect if your job requires sticking needles into patients and monitoring their vitals. With an <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/sleepless-nation-why-eight-plus-hours-is-necessary-for-optimal-health" target="_self">estimated 70 million Americans</a> suffering from some form of sleep disorder, this is an under-discussed public health crisis. </p><p>The feedback loop from Lee's study shows the necessity of cultivating both more awareness and sleeping better. When you work in health care, it's not only your health on the line. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
You're always in control of your breath.
- Anxiety is triggered environmentally and emotionally, but a physiological response quickly follows.
- Calming breathing techniques help to tamp down the physiological response of anxiety.
- The following four exercises are known to help calm anxiety and develop focus.