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The Neuroscience Of Mindfulness – Rick Hanson

The Neuroscience Of Mindfulness With Dr Rick Hanson

Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and New York Times best-selling author. His books include ‘Hardwiring Happiness’, ‘Buddha’s Brain’, ‘Just One Thing’, and ‘Mother Nurture’. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he has taught in meditation centres worldwide and has created a powerful one year online course called the Foundations of Well-Being.

Today we talk about all things neuroscience and mindfulness. In this video Melli and Rick explore…

  • How mindfulness affects the body and brain, and therefore our lives.
  • What you can expect to unfold in brain and behaviour with long term practice of mindfulness.
  • The ideal amount of time per day to practice.
  • The brain based reason that mindfulness can change our sense of self.
  • The science backed benefits of mindfulness
  • Powerful tips on how to get the best out of your meditation practice

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Show Notes

Join The Mindfulness Summit Journey here

Come and join the community discussions at any time on our Facebook page

You can find a wealth of free resources as well as details about Ricks books and events on his website here. Also, you might want to check out the foundations of wellbeing program (highly recommended!) which you can see at http://fwb.rickhanson.net/




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Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

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Buy full access pass

Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

Upgrade for Full Access Pass

Buy full access pass

Purchase a full access pass to unlock downloads for the full interview transcripts, audio, video and separate audio meditation tracks.

Upgrade for Full Access Pass


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265 Responses

  1. Angela Brier-Stephenson

    Thank you again for another brilliant interview. Love the way Rick explains the science part without losing me too much with “big words” :-). Interesting to read the many comments about Melli’s erms, aahs etc. I’m curious, as I haven’t noticed them because I’m so tuned into the speaker and their great sharing of insights. It is a great opportunity for us all to utilise these summit videos as a practice in themselves, mindfully listening, being aware what comes up as we listen, eg calmness, annoyance, irritation etc, and as I recall Jon Kabat Zinn saying, “remember without kindness it isn’t mindfulness”. Love tuning into these interviews, albeit at the very end of my day in the UK at the moment, but I then turn my light off and drift off to a very calm and nourishing sleep. Thank you to all involved in making this happen. May you all have peace and joy as you live with ease.

    1. Simone Wilde

      I want to point out to the people that are criticizing Melli that she has made it possible for all of us taking part in this summit to have THOUSANDS of DOLLARS worth of workshops and retreats for the bargain price of ZIP!!! ZERO!!!! NADA!!!! NIL!!!!!! Be grateful and you won’t even hear the ums and aahs. Seriously this is life changing information!

      1. mich

        So agree with you Simone! Thank you Melli for your hard work and effort in putting this summit together. I am getting so much from listening and like the questions you ask.

      2. Shari-Lynn Hiltz

        I agree! These are interviews between two people, so it is natural to acknowledge what the other person is saying. I doubt the interviews would be as wonderful if she sat there unresponsive; certainly not as welcoming. Thank you Melli for being open and encouraging!

    2. Nicole Lannertone

      I didn’t know anyone was criticizing her! I think he is the most graceful speaker!!! I don’t see how one can see anything but her authenticity….also to satisfy a more “oratory” crowd; she is truly eloquent and uses a great, expansive vocabulary. But even if she didn’t…Who cares???? She’s helping people!!! FO FREE.

  2. Steven Wolfe

    I’m curious as to what Rick mentioned as the “caveman brain” & how we may be vulnerable to the 2nd noble truth. Sounds to me like a lot of us out here need to learn more about the Buddha!

  3. I just want to say to ya’ll how much I’m enjoying taking this journey with you! We have had the most fun and heartfilling week. It’s so wonderful to be in touch with so many of you and to know that you feel benefit from this summit. How amazing are these speakers?! I can tell you that off screen every single one of them was so warm, kind, patient and generous. They are authentic to the bone….every single one. I think that’s what I have admired the most during the making of this summit…their authenticity and openess.

    I hope you enjoy the week to come. I am particularly excited about day 11. I think your going to like it! Shamash is funny smart and just such a great person to hang with. Love to you all and thanks for sending so much gratitude, warmth and well-wishing our way. We’re having so much fun : )

      1. amrita sethi

        Melli firstly, I want to congratulate and thank you for this summit.. you are blessed and its leaders like you who come out of the comfort zone and think of the world at large. Melli you will be responsible for turning around the lives of ordinary people …. to me this happened when i was totally in a state of helplessness. I am from India and here we are naturally inclined toward such a cause and learning. i am in a state of dichotomy ie meditation, being mindful will bring about the awakening sooner or later but for ceratin people who are beginers its not as easy to disconnect from the suffering which is going around in your circle. i believe the environment plays a very important role in learning to be in a state of mindfulness. Can you ask the experts to teach us how to deal in an environment such as this,Looking forward to your reply. thank you once again.

    1. Leah Argent

      Thank you so much Melli for this wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. I really like the interview format and agree with Rick, you have a lovely voice! So easy to listen to. Looking forward to all that is still to come. Bless you

    2. Liz

      Thank you for this summit Melli. I have listened to a lot of Rick Hanson talks and I have never seen him so animated and free as in the conversation that you had with him in this summit. I really enjoyed it. I thought your interview with Tami Simons was also really wonderful.

    3. Ang Kaufman

      Thank you Melli. The whole Summit is a true gift to us all. I love hearing the answer to the one same question you ask everyone… the world needs this critical mass at this time, more than ever. Best wishes from Tassie

  4. Nancy Rideout

    I am responding to Deborah’s comment above. Thank you Deborah for finally being the one with the presence of mind to suggest to listeners that the interviews are pre-recorded. I wonder if folks really believe that Melli will read what I would anticipate are hurtful and discouraging comments after each interview and then change her style when she undertakes the next day’s interview. Of course this summit has been pre-recorded from beginning to end.

    In any event folks, you are receiving a beautiful, rare and unique gift through this amazing summit. Imagine the work, thought, effort and selflessness that went in to providing us with something so valuable to us and our practices. The little things about Melli that you find so distracting and irritating, pale in comparison to the magnificence and generosity of her extraordinary gift and act of loving kindness toward us.

    Just sit with your annoyance, hold it in awareness and focus on the treasured words and information we are deriving from these interviews just as you would, the breath. It will soon soften into gratitude and acceptance. The interviewees themselves, clearly love the dialogue, interaction and engagement with Melli.

    Something to reflect upon….all in a day’s mindfulness:)

    1. Ann Stangl

      Who would ever say bad things about the summit? The time, effort and cost involved in an adventure such as this and yet make it free to the general public is priceless. Each person grows and learns at the rate they are comfortable with. Melli has presented a lesson to reach each individual at their own time. Just a thank you is not even enough to say for all the different avenues that are provided. God Bless each and everyone for we are just one more day closer to a calmer present.

  5. Zoe Knights

    Thanks Melli for expressing something which I had begun to wonder myself, as a newcomer to mindfulness, which is that mindfulness does not contraindicate or forbid the desire or ambition for good things in your life. I had begun to wonder if planning for and wanting various things in my life meant that I was not being mindful and that, similarly, if being mindful meant that I was supposed to put up with all the less than ideal things in it… I’m relieved to know that’s not the case and I look forward to learning more!

  6. Kim Jewett

    In each of these very different yet wonderful sessions, I feel like I’m listening to a fascinating, engaging conversation rather than attending a lecture by a guest speaker. Melli, I love your interactions with your guests and wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s a warmth and spontaneity that makes me feel I’m sitting right there with you. Thank you for putting this event together. It is a true gift.

  7. Kathy Leach

    Amazing. Such a wonderful communicator. There was so much packed into such a short time. It just flew by. As a medical professional, I was aware of the anatomy and neurochemicals, etc, but never how they profoundly connected with meditative traditions. And, that there was good science to believe that we can physically change our brains.
    I believe this gives more hope to people who are anxious! Depressed, and stressed that they do not have to live a life on multiple or any pharmaceuticals.

  8. Donna Lembke

    Wow! This is greatly exceeding my expectations – thank you! And some of my favorite speakers/authors are still to come. I was on the fence about buying the full access pass at first, but have now gone ahead and treated myself to it. I know that I will listen to each interview several times and it will be WELL worth the price of admission, especially knowing that charities are benefitting. I just can’t thank you enough for pulling all this wisdom together and presenting it so beautifully. Namaste.

  9. deb rushworth

    Oh WOW thank you Melli and Rick Hanson! All the sessions have been very good so far but this has to be my absolute favourite- most likely because of my science background. Rick makes so much sense. One of the key areas of meditative/ contemplative practice that I am consistently intrigued by is the notion of “interconnectedness”. I sense through meditation we get much closer to what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated in that ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ I’m excitedly waiting for neuroimaging confirmation & quantum physicists/ particle theorists to reveal to us all that we are all vibrating light beings encased by a physical surround, and that through meditative/ contemplative practice, we will eventually all interconnect as expansive, loving, energetic light particles, i.e., we become enlightened. The more folks like Rick discover, the closer we get 🙂

  10. Nicole Rivers

    First of all I would like to say thank you to Melli and all the speakers for this wonderful opportunity! And a very special thanks to Melli and Rick for today’s discussion. Today in particular was so engaging and exciting.
    I’m hoping to get some feedback in regards to my personal experience with Mindfulness. I have dabbled, you could say, with mindfulness over the last five years in yoga, meditation, reading, and taking an MBSR class. Through all of this I have struggled with finding myself feeling more anxiety as I meditate. I find this to be especially true when trying to do exercises that focus on breathing or a body scan. However, things like a moving or walking meditation seem to work better for me. I have really appreciated over the last couple of days the reinforcement that there is no “right” way and that not one thing works for everyone. Despite this I was wondering:
    1. Has anyone else had this experience and what are your thoughts/how have you navigated this?
    2. Many resources are geared toward “body scan” type exercises and I’d like to find other resources that are another approach
    3. I’m I missing the boat by not doing mindful breathing/body scan type practices?

    I appreciate any and all feedback! And thanks again for this opportunity Melli!

    1. Jean Pollock

      My response is that we are all bio diverse individuals. Find what works for you and go with it. We are not one size fits all. Don’t stress. No worries. You sound quite contemplative… You are on your journey. Be you… Be well

    2. Lisa

      Hi Nicole,
      I have struggled with anxiety at various times and found that focusing on my breathing made things worse. It seems you have already discovered what is best for you–ie meditation that involves movement. I have found the same and this is also suggested by various teachers I have studied with. It is really important to honor what your body is telling you.

      A great yoga book I came across is “Yoga for Emotional Balance” written by Jo Forbes and especially for people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression. It gives a detailed sequence of poses depending on your type–eg. depressed body, depressed mind, or anxious body, anxious mind, or anxious mind depressed body etc.
      She also has some breathing exercises.

      Hope this is useful,

      Best wishes


  11. Jean Pollock

    Day 7. What a terrific session. Meditation can protect my telomeres and improve the speed of my gamma waves. Let’s see if that will propel me to be a more dedicated practitioner of mindfulness and meditation. My favorite talk so far. Thank you

  12. Elizabeth Egan

    Absolutely loved this session! I had heard much of this before but not in such an engaging and understandable way. Rick Hanson is now my favorite neuroscientist. Thank you, Melli!

  13. Leta Mosier

    I was so fascinated, I didn’t want this interview to end. Thanks Melli for your questions, efforts, & loving care that you and all of your staff have put into making this an amazing presentation for us all. Greatly appreciated.

  14. Deb

    Rick Hanson “the foundations of well being” I will be looking that up. Love the whole body vs contracted dictator, I see wrong-view producing that result! Use the core needs checklist to ward off craving and the other defilements has always worked for me ‘in-the-moment’ of doubt.. Relax to the warmth/ invite cultivation of positive!… Drop by drop Wonderful interview thank you much for sharing

  15. Maria T+Calva

    I enjoyed a lot this conversation!!! It is incredible how we transform our brain and all around us just as a domino effect !!!! Thanks for this great time listening many interesting topics????????????????

  16. Gary Garman

    Thank you so much for providing myself and others with this experience. While I’ve sat for some time, I can never get enough of the wisdom from the true pioneers and their stewards. Melli, your kindness and compassion shines through. Many of the speakers do not have much time in their busy lives and your ability to draw so many together is a testament to your vision and wonderful intention. Seems as if there are some complaints about your style. Hopefully, that in and of itself, will draw people farther down the path. Thanks for being so brave.

  17. Dennis Lorah

    Enjoyed Rick Hanson’s presentation the most (up to this point). I was relieved to hear many (most) young children find the world stressful. After 60 years I still don’t have that completely under control. I am now hopeful I can “hardwire my brain for contentment, calm, and confidence. Thank you to the organizers of The Mindfulness Summit and Rick.

  18. Hayley

    I am adoring this summit…. I have done a few month-long challenges, and don’t seem to get past day three. Day seven and I am enthusiastic and loving the personal learning!!!! Rick speaks to my ‘science’ brain and I really appreciate that he was able to combine evidence and spirituality into one. Good on you Melli, this is one of the best things I have ever been a part of. Thank you.

  19. Lauri dunk

    another wonderful session with an engaging speaker..thankyou both for this tonite. I have enjoyed so much these evenings of “mindfullness” exploration. I look forward to all of what these speakers have to offer and the process is very insightfull and nourishing. Thankyou to Melli for providing this service to the world! it is truly a gift and I am most grateful… so glad to have signed up!

  20. Kumari Delgoda

    Each speaker is so inspiring as it is obvious that they are speaking through their experience of the practice, and not through theoretical knowledge.I am also amazed how Millie manages to ask sometimes the same questions from each speaker but phrase it in such an interesting way and draw out some amazing answers.
    I look forward to each talk every night.

  21. Lotta Dann

    I loved this guy! And I really enjoyed your spirited conversation. I am really really really loving this Summit and so appreciate all your hard work in pulling this together. Thanks from New Zealand x

  22. Helena Saray

    Thank you to Rick Hanson…a brilliant mind. Enjoyed listening every minute to the scientific approach to these practices. And again Melli, I truly enjoy your engagement during the dialog and the brilliant session with Mr. Hanson today! Thank you.

  23. Marta Knowlton

    Absolutely loved this interview! Thank you so much Melli for your vision and hard work in putting this Summit together. These are not just interviews, they’re conversations between friends who are fundamentally safe, satisfied, and connected. We’re very fortunate to see and hear exactly what it all looks like. And you make it so, Melli. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  24. Beth Gahbler

    I think this is my favorite talk until now – and I’ve gotten so much from the other talks, too. In this case, however, I think I’ll be coming back to it again and again. Thanks so much for the Mindfulness Summit, Melli – I have a few issues with it, but they pale compared to the overall benefit.

  25. Sue Fisher

    I really appreciated Rick Hanson’s thoughtful answer to the final (and daily) question, when he said that ‘mindfulness’ on its own to be of true worldwide value, needs the moral dimension. Many teachers talk about ‘enquiry’ as the 2nd essential component, and I think I understood that better when Joseph Goldstein described how first you look at what is happening (thoughts, feelings etc) and then you look at how you are relating to that experience (clinging, avoiding, trying to change it etc). May be this is the way of cultivating the moral dimension?
    And I echo all the deeply appreciative and excited participants above. I’m loving it.

  26. Ang Kaufman

    Thank you Melli for the wonderful and varied insights on Mindfulness. I just can’t wait for the next day’s interview. I have enjoyed everyone of the speakers so far and will for all the others. After all this is about knowledge, experience and diversity of practice.
    There are always people who find fault with something… that is why they need to be a part of this Mindfulness Summit, and they are!

  27. Teresa Gray

    Another awesome speaker, absolutely brilliant! So much to learn and so much to practice to benefit ourselves and all who surround us. Great end with the Budha quote, loved it!
    Thank you as always for sharing your time and knowledge to inspire and better ourselves and the world.

  28. Rafaela de

    This interview was amazing! I have no words to express how happy I am for having access to so many valuable informations. It’s been amazing to be in this summit! All other interviews were also fantastic, but Rick Hanson took it all to a whole new level. Fantastic! Thank you Melli, for organizing this!

  29. Lisa Brotherton

    What a rich and fascinating interview. The last ten minutes could have been stretched into another hour and I would have been rivited. I guess that is an indication that I best pick up a couple of his books!
    Thank again, Melli

  30. Michaela Kennedy

    Like Hayley, I really stick with this ever day and sit in awe. We get all this for free and delivered with soo much enthusiasm and dedication. Cannot thank you enough, Melli. I love hearing Melli’s enthusiastic little involuntary acknowledgements.

  31. christina wat

    My learning for Day 7 which I want to share are :

    1. Tremendous benefit of mindfulness practices, positive emotion and stress relief.
    2. Other benefits also include stay young, healing power, greater resilences.
    3. Importance of routine practice.

    Thank you !

  32. Taghrid

    WOW!!! Absolutely brilliant! Thank you, thank you and thank you so much Millie for this amazing precious gift, for your your passion, hard work in bringing such wonderful and inspiring speakers. I loved your interaction with them, you made us feel that we are with you all in the same room. I have spread the word to all my family, friends and clients. Thoroughly enjoyed this summit and so have they, it was like meditating all the time just listening and focusing on all the info given. This captivating interview with Dr Hanson was deep and profound and maybe resonated with me because of the scientific background. I loved combining scientific evidence and spirituality. The Buddha quote was very powerful. Hoping that drop by drop, day by day and speaker by speaker, we will fill ourselves with good. THANK YOU ALL for sharing.

  33. Ed zullo

    Although I’ve loved all of the interviews so far this has been my favorite because Rick is first asking “what exactly do we mean by mindfulness & body scan” and then pointing the way and reaching out beyond the conventional. At about 30:00 he starts to discuss the parts of the brain that are more focused on the self and others that are less focused on self. I would suggest the term non dual or at least less dualistic. He eventually addresses the body scan and suggests that instead of bringing awareness to one area, the big toe, the inside of the ankle etc., at a time that we widen or expand the awareness to include more. Seems like a definite prelude to Vajrayana practices which encourage the practitioner to develop a more expanded experience of space. Might be interesting to, towards the end of the body scan, to invite the practitioners expand their awareness to include the whole body and then to include the whole room, the space and beyond. Of course this is vary commonly done in yoga classes during shavassana (sp?) but I think that it can be effective only if there is some rootedness in the body.

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