Your Brain: Either a Blessing or a Burden in Conversation

In conversations, human brain function is both a blessing and a burden. Brain function is a blessing when it enables us to communicate what we think and care about and listen to the same in others. Brain function is a burden when we automatically jump to the conclusion that what others are saying or doing is a threat. These conversation exchanges are when we have “knee jerk reactions” like interrupting or criticizing them, defending ourselves, … Read more…

The Fourth Dimension of Social Fields: The Human Mind

A note from Mary: This post is longer and more dense than usual. I am exploring some big questions so please hang in with me and read through the whole piece. I would so appreciate your sending me your questions, comments or suggestions. Last Saturday night, my husband, Roger James, and I watched the last episode of HBO’s five-part mini-series “Chernobyl.” It tells the story of the nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986, … Read more…

Are We Stuck at a Cognitive Threshold?

The complexity of issues facing us is outstripping our ability to understand and solve them. Governmental institutions spin on gerbil wheels of outmoded, linear processes and procedures, attempting to tackle issues with multiple, inter-connected parts one part at a time. This is as true in the United States Congress as it is in state legislatures and city councils. In the world of business, economic considerations (i.e., profit), trumps all other criteria in determining whether or … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Being a Verb Instead of a Noun

This entry* on attention is the final one of a five-part series on what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. The second one investigates resilience; the third considers empathy and compassion; and the fourth investigates the impact of meditation on … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Pay Attention

This entry on attention is the fourth in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. The second entry investigates resilience and the third considers empathy and compassion. Attention is a limited … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Empathy and Compassion

This entry on empathy and compassion is the third in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. The second entry investigates resilience. One of the most popular and memorable … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Resilience 

This entry on resilience is the second in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. Over forty years ago, I started dabbling with meditation because I … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Responding to Disturbances

This entry is the first in a five-part series. It will describe what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain, and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. For 15 years I’ve been tracking the impact of meditation on the human brain and its potential to help people be more constructive in meetings. In my work as a leader, consultant and facilitator it seems to me … Read more…

Mindsets Shape Meetings

Fixed or Growth Mindset

In a recent meeting with a client Roger and one of the organization’s senior managers expressed their concerns about a direction the CEO wanted to go. The CEO had spent a lot of time thinking about this direction and was confident it was right. Because this executive has a growth mindset, however, he listened to Roger’s and the manager’s concerns and changed his mind, “I got it. I just needed to think it through again.” … Read more…