At first glance a room filled with a group of people practising meditation may not look unusual.
But the men and women who are sitting sitting calmly and trying to focus their minds are a little different from most.
They are prisoners in the central jail in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, serving sentences for committing violent crimes.
It is not their aim to attain bliss - or nirvana - but it is their objective to reduce anxiety and make a new beginning.
This is the first time that prison officials in Bangladesh have introduced a meditation programme for inmates.
As meditation trainers play audio which teaches them how to focus their minds, prisoners follow the instructions dutifully and peacefully.
Both male and female inmates have been given a chance to try meditation - not only to lower their stress levels but also to give them a chance to reform and succeed in the outside world.
"Our traditional counselling method to reform prisoners was not fruitful. Many of the prisoners simply reoffend and end up back in jail adding to the prison population," says prisons inspector Gen Muhammad Ashraful Islam Khan.
Doing simple values affirmation exercises can have some very positive effects. I have blogged about the research showing that affirming values can reduce stress. Now some research done just up the road in Boulder indicates that values affirmation can raise grades. Perhaps affirming values will be shown to result in performance improvement in many situations?
Here's the news release about the new research from American Association for the Advancement of Science:
A brief writing exercise can help women in college physics classes improve their academic performance and reduce some of the well-documented differences between male and female science students, researchers say in a new study. The writing exercise seems particularly beneficial to female students who tend to subscribe to the negative stereotype that men perform better in physics, the researchers say
Apparently, awareness of this so-called gender gap can negatively affect women’s performance on their physics exams. But, this rather simple writing exercise—aimed at re-affirming an individual’s core values—appears to narrow the gap and level the playing field for women who find themselves in this frequently stereotyped demographic.
In light of their findings, Akira Miyake from the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues from Colorado and California suggest that similar value-affirmation exercises might help to close the gender gap further. Their research appears in the 26 November issue of the journal Science, which is published by AAAS.
“The introductory course we investigated in this study is intended for students planning to be science majors,” Miyake said. “So, the women in that course probably did well in high school science courses, are interested in science, and are highly motivated to do well. The fact that we found a large reduction in the gender gap for affirmed women tells you that some psychological processes are affecting women’s performance on exams and how powerful those influences are.”
This new experiment follows a previous study by some of the same researchers about the positive long-term effects of a similar writing exercise on
What should be the goal of medical schools? I believe we have an obligation to help our students grow into great physicians. What philosophical principles should we use?
Perhaps the answer to success is Servant Leadership. ...
Here are the basics of servant leadership:
"The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
"The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? ...
Click to read the rest. What do you think? Should law profs be servant leaders to their students, much like Centor is to his med students?
Consistent with the aims of this special issue, we present a systems perspective on self/identity, predicated on William James’s classic distinction between I and Me, and use this perspective to explore conceptual relations between self/identity, motivation to learn, and self-regulated learning. We define the I self functionally in terms of the capacity for the conscious shifting and sustaining of awareness. The I is conceived of as that aspect of the self-system that affords the potential for the conscious and willful, rather than the non-conscious and automatic, motivation and regulation of behavior. We introduce contemplative education as a set of pedagogical practices designed to cultivate conscious awareness in an ethical-relational context in which the values of personal growth, learning, moral living, and caring for others are nurtured. We discuss the implications of contemplative education for the cultivation of conscious and willful forms of learning and living among students and educators alike.
The burgeoning field of cultural neuroscience is finding that culture influences brain development, and perhaps vice versa.
When an American thinks about whether he is honest, his brain activity looks very different than when he thinks about whether another person is honest, even a close relative. That’s not true for Chinese people. When a Chinese man evaluates whether he is honest, his brain activity looks almost identical to when he is thinking about whether his mother is honest.
That finding — that American and Chinese brains function differently when considering traits of themselves versus traits of others (Neuroimage, Vol. 34, No. 3) — supports behavioral studies that have found that people from collectivist cultures, such as China, think of themselves as deeply connected to other people in their lives, while Americans adhere to a strong sense of individuality.
The study also shows the power of cultural neuroscience, the growing field that uses brain-imaging technology to deepen the understanding of how environment and beliefs can shape mental function. Barely heard of just five years ago, the field has become a vibrant area of research, and the University of Michigan, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Emory University have created
Michele DeStefano Beardslee was not overflowing with enthusiasm when her law dean suggested last year that she organize an academic conference on globalization. An assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Law, Beardslee wasn't sure how yet another series of panels would provide her students with practical skills in dealing with global business issues.
She hit upon the idea of bringing law students from different continents together to work on problems within legal education or the profession — say, the way judges interact across national borders, or how to pay for international litigation. The program, Law Without Walls, will start in January with students from Miami; Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China; Harvard Law School; Fordham University School of Law; New York Law School; and University College London.
"Today's world is no longer contained by country boundaries. The lawyers of tomorrow, if they want to be successful, are going to have to interact with businesspeople from around the world," Beardslee said.
David Lynch is looking to make the world a little quieter.
The filmmaker behind the movies "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" is giving $100,000 to launch Operations Warrior Wellness, an initiative to help 10,000 veterans overcome Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other war-related illnesses through transcendental meditation, which he says creates "professional peacemakers."
Backed by the likes of actors Clint Eastwood, directors George Lucas and Martin Scorsese, Mr. Lynch will announce the new program next month at a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
All those roles might give new meaning to client relations. I guess Nancy du Tertre would be an extra-sensitive listener. If we read her new book, we might learn more about how she combines her abilities. (It appears from the below that she may no longer practice law.)
Here is the news release about her and the book. (I am not going to ask what "other channels" from which you can buy the book.)
Psychic detective's new science-based book reveals how psychic ability works
"Psychic Intuition" by Nancy du Tertre bridges the gap between skeptics and believers
MOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. (MMD Newswire) November 24, 2010 -- Psychic ability is a natural human ability, not a born gift, claims psychic detective Nancy du Tertre in her new book "Psychic Intuition" (ISBN 1452881634), and she says anyone can learn it.
Du Tertre takes the reader on a journey of neuroscience, psychology and occultism to explain such issues as why women are more intuitive than men; why skeptics and psychics literally do not share the same reality; how the so-called "psychic senses" operate; why we are all "psychic" but most of us lose that ability; and much more. Du Tertre follows each of these issues while also giving the reader insight into the inner workings of psychic ability. She interviewed some of the most famous psychics, scientists, religious authorities and military authorities in the psychic field for her book.
Du Tertre is an attorney who specializes in securities litigation and corporate law, but after attending a series of workshops on Intuitive Gestalt Psychotherapy in New York with Dr. Ron DeAngelo, she became fascinated by what she says are the enormous untapped intuitive and psychic powers of the brain. With her legal background