Masters of Mindfulness: Transforming Your Mind and Body [TTC Video]

Masters of Mindfulness: Transforming Your Mind and Body [TTC Video]
Masters of Mindfulness: Transforming Your Mind and Body [TTC Video] by Shauna Shapiro, PhD, Juna Mustad, SEP, Rick Hanson, PhD, Kristine Carlson, Mike Robbins, Amishi Jha, PhD, Elissa Epel, PhD, Jessica Graham, Dacher Keltner, PhD, Wallace J Nichols, PhD, Daniel J Siegel, MD
Course No 9048 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 22x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.35GB

Modern biology and neuroscience have quantified the powerfully positive effects of mindfulness. Join 11 top researchers and proponents of mindfulness as they breakdown what modern science and contemporary research have revealed about this ancient practice and the many ways in which it can benefit your life. This course represents a unique and extraordinary opportunity, bringing a diverse group of renowned specialists together in one place for the first time to share their own personal experiences and their latest research, and to guide you through several mindfulness exercises.

According to Dr. Shauna Shapiro, mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment with an attitude of kindness and generosity. It involves being aware and doing things with conscious intent. But research shows our mind lives in the past or the future almost half of our waking moments.

Focusing on this moment in time, this place, your body as it feels in this moment, your breath as it moves in and out right now… That focus on present-moment awareness has the capability to transform your life. And it has existed for thousands of years, interwoven throughout many religious and intellectual traditions.

Mindfulness as a practice is very simple and its effects are well-documented. What many people don’t realize is the breadth of the science behind it and how much of our health—physical, mental, emotional—is bound up in the way we look at and experience the world. Now, modern biology and neuroscience can actually quantify many of the effects of mindfulness and you may be surprised by how powerful the impact can be.

In Masters of Mindfulness: Transforming Your Mind and Body, 11 top researchers and proponents of mindfulness discuss what modern science and contemporary research have revealed about this ancient practice and the many ways in which it can benefit your life. These 22 lectures present a unique and extraordinary opportunity, bringing a diverse group of renowned specialists together in one place for the first time to share their own personal experiences and their latest research, and to guide you through several mindfulness exercises. Acting as your primary guide through the many concepts and presenters, psychologist and mindfulness expert Dr. Shauna Shapiro brings together some of the greatest minds in the field to give you an immersive, 360-degree experience of mindfulness, its practice, and its benefits.

This course was shot on location at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, a place that is considered a unique sanctuary for anyone interested in the study of human consciousness and the human potential movement. Since 1962, this profoundly beautiful locale has been a thriving hub for investigating and experiencing the journey of mindfulness in its many forms, including cutting-edge scientific research and applications. Not everyone can hop on a plane to California, so Masters of Mindfulness brings this one-of-a-kind experience to you.

Mindfulness in All Aspects of Our Lives

If you don’t yet have a mindfulness practice, you might be wondering how you’re going to fit it into your schedule. But mindfulness doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You don’t have to buy any equipment or take any lessons, or wear anything special. All you need is a chair, or even the floor, and the desire to change your life and habits for the better. With an investment of 12 minutes a day, you can start reaping the rewards of a mindfulness practice.

  • Internationally recognized mindfulness expert Dr. Shauna Shapiro begins the course by explaining the benefits of a mindfulness practice; after all, as she says: “what you practice grows stronger.” She also introduces each subsequent presenter and explains how he or she fits into the overall course.
  • Dr. Rick Hanson explains why we evolved with a brain whose wiring is always on the lookout for the negative, and how neuroplasticity gives us the ability to change that orientation, leading to a more resilient and positive inner life for modern times. Author Kristine Carlson then shares her very personal journey of grief and the ways in which mindfulness can aid in your own healing and transition to a better life. With Juna Mustad, you will go on a journey toward anger—an emotion that frightens most of us—and use mindfulness tools to discover the positive role anger can play in your life.
  • Author Mike Robbins invites you to “bring your whole self to work” with authenticity and honesty and Jessica Graham helps you explore the ways in which a mindfulness practice can open up your sex life, offering both greater pleasure and a deeper connection to your partner.
  • Drs. Amishi Jha and Elissa Epel discuss the thrilling scientific discoveries regarding the effects of mindfulness at the cellular level. Dr. Jha explains the benefits of mindfulness on the structure and functioning of the brain, while Dr. Epel discusses the benefits of a mindfulness practice on specific cellular structures related to aging. A mindfulness practice can’t subtract years from your age in a literal sense, but it has the potential to significantly affect your biological age—your health and mental acuity.
  • Dr. Dacher Keltner shares his passion for the study of awe in the human experience—that uniquely human emotion that has had a profound effect on our evolution as an ultra-social species. Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols helps us connect that feeling of awe to the lakes, rivers, and oceans of our water planet—or even just the water that we drink—discussing the benefits of a mindful connection to our physical world. Then, Dr. Daniel J. Siegel brings together a full concept of the mind and the practice of “The Wheel of Awareness” with its potential for personal transformation.

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness

While scientists have long been able to identify brain inputs and outputs, only in the past few decades have we developed the technology to know what happened on the inside. Today, technological revolutions in science allow us to look into the workings of the brain and the body in unprecedented ways. Most importantly, we have learned that the way we use our brain is constantly influencing its own structure and function.

Just a few of the dimensions of mindfulness you will explore in Masters of Mindfulness include:

  • Incorporating a mind-body practice into your life for even a few months can reduce inflammation and can stabilize the length of telomeres—those regions at the end of the chromosome that protect the chromosome from deterioration—thereby, slowing the rate of aging.
  • Adding even a short mindfulness practice to your day can improve brain health as measured by the brain’s gyrification and density of the wiring that promotes efficient neural processing.
  • While consistently working puzzles and various cognitive challenges will improve your performance on those exact challenges, practice doesn’t translate into overall brain processing improvement or ability to focus. On the other hand, a mindfulness practice does strengthen all the brain’s attention systems.
  • The practice of mindfulness strengthens the immune system, decreases stress, improves sleep function, increases compassion, and improves cognitive function.
  • Through natural selection, our brain evolved to scan for and retain bad news, while simultaneously overlooking or downplaying good news. But a mindfulness practice can help us increase compassion and positivity, creating a brain that better serves us in our current world and circumstances.

Theory and Practice

In addition to learning about mindfulness, many of the experts in Masters of Mindfulness guide you through mindfulness practices during this course. While you will notice some similarities through all the practices, each is geared toward a unique objective. You will be able to choose which of these practices best resonate with you personally. Among those presented are:

  • Wheel of Awareness: This practice helps integrate the five senses, internal bodily sensations, mental activity and emotions, and relationship to the outside world. Created by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, more than 10,000 individuals have experienced this healing practice.
  • Face Your Anger: Anger is not an emotion we typically associate with a meditative practice. But with guidance from Juna Mustad, you will dig deeper into troubling emotions, to discover what they are trying to tell you and why you should be listening to them.
  • If You Really Knew Me: This exercise, led by Mike Robbins, is a wonderful present-moment way to cultivate authenticity and appreciation in group settings.
  • Body Awareness: We are rarely fully aware of the sensations in our bodies. Jessica Graham leads this mindfulness practice to create a stronger mind-body connection for the purpose of enhancing pleasure and improving communication with your partner.

Whether you’re a beginner or a longtime practitioner of mindfulness, this guided tour through the many facets of the practice will deepen your understanding and help you to integrate mindfulness at home and at work, in your relationships, and in your self-identity over time. With your expert guides, you will see how mindfulness is both a skill and an art, modern science and ancient wisdom.

Masters of Mindfulness: Transforming Your Mind and Body [TTC Video]

What Darwin Didn't Know: The Modern Science of Evolution [TTC Video]

What Darwin Didn't Know: The Modern Science of Evolution [TTC Video]
What Darwin Didn't Know: The Modern Science of Evolution [TTC Video] by Scott Solomon, PhD
Course No 1530 | MP4, AVC, 2000 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x31 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.85 GB

Writing the final pages of his masterpiece The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin looked ahead to the work yet to be done on his groundbreaking theory of evolution by natural selection. “In the distant future,” he predicted, “I see open fields for far more important researches.”

How right he was. In the more than a century and a half since Origin was published in 1859, evolution has emerged as the fundamental concept in all of biology, explaining Earth’s endlessly diverse organisms while spawning new disciplines such as genetics, molecular biology, and evolutionary medicine. The tremendous progress in the fields that emerged from his original theories would have astounded even Darwin, who did not live to see developments such as:

  • The discovery of the rules of heredity;
  • The identification of DNA as the carrier of genetic information;
  • Fossil discoveries that fill major evolutionary gaps and offer new insights;
  • The recognition of multiple mass extinctions in Earth’s history;
  • The ability to read the genetic code of any organism; and
  • The power to manipulate genetic material.

And this is just a sample of the deep insights and remarkable conclusions that Darwin’s ideas inspired. What Darwin Didn’t Know: The Modern Science of Evolution charts this scientific revolution in 24 stimulating half-hour lectures suitable for curious learners at all levels, no matter what your background in science.

Darwin is renowned for his globe-circling voyage on the HMS Beagle when he was a young man, collecting observations that eventually led to the theory of natural selection. The outstanding teacher of What Darwin Didn’t Know is no less a world traveler. Professor Scott Solomon of Rice University has explored much of Earth’s amazing biodiversity as a field biologist, and he brings hands-on experience to these fascinating lectures, which cover 160 years of non-stop scientific advances.

The Theory of Evolution Takes Off

Professor Solomon begins by laying the foundation of Darwin’s theory—how he struggled to find an explanation for the tremendous variety within species, and how he hit on the idea that better-adapted organisms tend to survive and produce more offspring, driving evolution in the direction of beneficial traits. He was already familiar with artificial selection, accomplished through plant and animal breeding. Nature, Darwin surmised, must be following a similar path with natural selection favoring some randomly-appearing variations over others. Professor Solomon tells how another naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, worked out an almost identical theory around the same time as Darwin (Darwin magnanimously ensured that their results were published simultaneously).

Darwin continued to refine his theory throughout his life, but much remained to be done by his successors. For example, the biggest gap in Darwin’s knowledge was the science of genetics, which was single-handedly pioneered by a little-known Austrian monk and part-time botanist named Gregor Mendel. Largely unnoticed until the early 20th century, Mendel’s conclusions about the discrete nature of hereditary traits proved to be the key to explaining how traits can pass intact from one generation to the next. With this, Darwin's theory that adaptive mutations can be transmitted gained a sound basis, and evolution took off as a rigorous and powerfully predictive science, accumulating steady improvements to Darwin’s original ideas, such as:

  • Natural selection in real time: Darwin believed that evolution always advances with extreme slowness. But biologists in the field have documented wild species—from Galapagos finches to flies infesting fruit—that acquire useful adaptations with stunning speed, sometimes in only a few generations.
  • Plate tectonics: Darwin noticed that obviously related species often exist on opposite sides of the world’s great oceans. This mystery was solved by the theory of plate tectonics, which shows that the continents move, dividing populations, which then evolve separately while retaining many common characteristics.
  • Universal genetic code: Darwin introduced the “Tree of Life” and the possibility that all of life evolved from a common ancestor, a view that was largely rejected in his own time. But biologists have demonstrated that every known type of life—from bacteria to human beings—uses the same DNA code inherited from a single ancestor.

The Road to Humans

Darwin did not deal with the evolution of humans in The Origin of Species, saving that controversial topic for The Descent of Man, which he published in 1871. Together with his colleague Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin argued that humans share a common ancestor with the great apes, based on the many similar anatomical features we share with them. In What Darwin Didn’t Know, you learn that the evidence for this connection has grown impressively since Darwin’s day. For example, recent DNA analyses show that our closest living relatives are chimpanzees. Next closest are gorillas and then orangutans. While the last common ancestor of all four lived around 10 million years ago, we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees until as recently as 5 to 7 million years ago. You also explore the following intriguing findings and conjectures about human evolution:

  • The perplexing path to us: Huxley proposed the classic view that humans evolved in a linear progression from primitive apes. But fossil discoveries show that the evolutionary path was much more complicated, with many branches, sub-branches, and dead-ends, along with one particular offshoot leading to Homo sapiens.
  • Neanderthals and Denisovans: Two extinct branches of the human family tree are the celebrated Neanderthals and a recently discovered species or sub-species called the Denisovans. Both interbred with humans at some point, and a small percentage of their DNA has spread widely through modern human populations.
  • The future of Homo sapiens: Is human evolution over thanks to modern medicine? Some biologists think so, but major evolutionary changes may be in our future as we exploit our ability to edit the human genome. Furthermore, any humans who leave the planet will face strong evolutionary pressures in extraterrestrial environments.

Evolution Is Inevitable

Professor Solomon points out that Darwin didn’t just suggest that species can evolve. One of the most important messages from the modern science of evolution is that evolution is a necessary feature of life. As long as life includes heredity and reproduction, all living things will evolve. Even a species that appears to have stayed the same for millions of years will turn out to have undergone many small changes, just to keep up with a changing environment. In short, evolution isn’t just possible. It’s inevitable.

In the final paragraph of The Origin of Species, Darwin slyly compared his discovery of evolution by natural selection to the revolution wrought by Isaac Newton with his law of universal gravitation. “There is grandeur in this view of life,” Darwin wrote about his theory, “…that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Just as Newton had no idea about Einstein, Hawking, or his many other successors, so Darwin was in the dark about the brilliant scientists who would build on his work, creating the biological golden age that we are living through today—a story told masterfully by Professor Solomon in this thrilling course.

What Darwin Didn't Know: The Modern Science of Evolution [TTC Video]

Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know [TTC Video]

Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know [TTC Video]
Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know [TTC Video] by Professor Joseph H Shieber, PhD
Course No 5701 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.33GB

Humans have been attempting to understand for thousands of years what knowledge truly is and how we acquire it, but the more we learn about the human body, our brains, and the world around us, the more challenging the quest becomes. The 21st century is a fast-paced world of technological change and expanding social networks, a world where information is plentiful and cheap, but where truth seems in short supply.

When it comes to our never-ending search for the truth about knowledge, there are innumerable questions and considerations.

What is the best way to make a transformative decision, such as whether to have a child? What if common sense was diametrically opposed to rational decision theory?

If you see the correct time on a stopped clock, do you really know what time it is? Is that genuine knowledge or simply chance? And does the distinction matter?

Our memories are one of our primary channels for knowledge, but much of what we “remember” is actually false memories or confabulations. Where does that leave us?

Media organizations developed a strong culture of fact-checking in the 20th century, but can they continue to sustain this pursuit of truth in a world of “click-bait”?

These questions merely scratch the surface of “epistemology,” the philosophical term for our inquiry into knowledge: what it is, the ways we acquire it, and how we justify our beliefs as knowledge. Delve into these issues, and many more, in Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know. Taught by acclaimed Professor Joseph H. Shieber of Lafayette College, these 24 mind-bending lectures take you from ancient philosophers to contemporary neurobiologists, and from wide-ranging social networks to the deepest recesses of your own brain.

Epistemology is as old as philosophy itself. This survey takes you back to Plato, who defined knowledge in terms of “true belief”—a person’s belief that corresponds with some external truth. You’ll see how this relationship between knowledge, belief, and the truth aligns with what 20th-century developmental psychologists have learned about children and the way we first begin to access information.

It is these types of connections—between philosophical history and our world today, and between abstract theory and observed, real-world examples—that make Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know such a treat. This course will transform how you think about yourself, the world around you, and the very nature of reality.

Unpack Competing Theoretical Approaches

As you delve into this course, you’ll soon discover there are several competing frameworks for defining and validating knowledge. For an influential and widely accepted explanation of knowledge, a great place to start is Descartes’s “evil demon” argument. Descartes understood he could not be certain the entire world was not the fabrication of some evil demon. All he knew for certain, all he could say infallibly, was cogito, ergo sum—I think, therefore I am.

Epistemology has come a long way since Descartes, and while most philosophers take issue with much of Descartes’s reasoning, his theory still offers a foundational approach to understanding knowledge.

After reviewing this foundation, you will survey a number of key frameworks that will allow you to dive into a number of epistemological debates, including:

  • The foundationalist vs. the coherentist understanding of knowledge;
  • Internalist vs. externalist frameworks for justifying belief; and
  • The rationalism of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz vs. the empiricism of Locke and Hume—which led to Kant’s distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge.

By examining these debates, you’ll not only gain a sense of the breadth of epistemology, but you’ll also gain the language and the insights necessary to understand epistemology today.

Investigate Individual Sources of Knowledge

Regardless of whether you find the internalists or the externalists, the foundationalists or the coherentists more persuasive, there are two general ways of accessing knowledge: through personal channels and through our social networks. To bring the old philosophical debates to life and make abstract theories concrete, Professor Shieber outlines the individual sources of knowledge, including:

  • Sensory Perception: The most fundamental way we encounter the world is through our senses, but we must also understand that our senses are fallible. Using examples from cutting-edge ocular field theory and neurobiology, you will find out just how rocky our knowledge would be if it were based solely on what we perceive.
  • Memory & Self-Awareness: Surely, we know ourselves if nothing else about the world … right? Delve into the world of denial, false memories, confabulation, and more to challenge this key belief. See what advancements in computer science tell us about the very nature of the “self” as you take a foray into the “extended mind.”
  • Logic & Inference: From syllogisms to inductive reasoning, logic tells us much about the world—but like all personal sources of knowledge, logic has its weaknesses. For instance, the “raven’s paradox” asks us to ponder the claim, “All ravens are black.” Logic suggests the converse is true: “All things that are not black are not ravens.” Does evidence for the latter claim count as evidence for the former?

Reflect on Social Sources of Knowledge

After exploring the individual sources of knowledge, Professor Shieber turns to our social sources of knowledge, which often raise the question of trustworthiness. How can we verify we are receiving reliable and accurate information? How do I know someone isn’t lying to me? How can I be sure? Your investigation takes you through:

  • Social Testimony: Much of our knowledge depends on testimony from others. Even facts as basic as our names and the identities of our parents are based on information from others. How do we evaluate the truthfulness of social testimony? Or do we even evaluate the accuracy of what others tell us? Thinkers from David Hume to contemporary social psychologists have wrestled with this issue.
  • Scientific Achievement: Much of modern science relies on knowledge via “socially distributed cognitive systems.” For example, a 19th-century French project to update mathematical tables depended on the labor of ordinary workers relying on basic arithmetic—but who couldn’t comprehend the project as a whole. This process lends credence to a “social externalist” view of knowledge from testimony.
  • Media Reliability: We are living amidst a battle between fact-checking and “fake news.” How do you gauge the accuracy and reliability of the media? What role do our social networks have to play in our media consumption? And how do we incentivize a culture of fact-checking rather than “click-bait” and confirmation bias in our media institutions?

An Exciting Field

Professor Shieber closes the course with a look into the future of epistemology. While the field of inquiry has been around for thousands of years, philosophers are constantly opening up new areas of thought, from epistemic logic to issues of systemic injustice in the world. How do we combat cognitive bias? Who should we include in our social networks? How do we know we are not just brains in a vat?

As you will learn from the very beginning of this course, rationality and common sense often lead you to wildly different conclusions when it comes to making transformative decisions. But you don’t have to be making a life-changing decision to make use of the types of critical thinking epistemologists employ. We live in a messy, imperfect, and often irrational world, but Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know offers an excellent step toward becoming a better thinker, and a more engaged citizen.

Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What You Know [TTC Video]

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