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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

I have been waiting for this explanation most of my adult life. Now maybe I’ll stop screeching “Serenity now!”
Thanks, sunfoundation:

 Why Do Freeways Come to a Stop? 
This infographic explains what happens that makes freeways suddenly  come to a stop. It also explains what the funnel effect is.

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

I have been waiting for this explanation most of my adult life. Now maybe I’ll stop screeching “Serenity now!”

Thanks, sunfoundation:

Why Do Freeways Come to a Stop?

This infographic explains what happens that makes freeways suddenly come to a stop. It also explains what the funnel effect is.

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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A Little Bit of Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce a Lot of Pain

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

MRI Scans of Brain of Novice Meditator with Pain MRI images of the brain of a novice meditator show signs of pain nearly disappear. (source: Robert Coghill/Wake Forest University School of Medicine)

"You might not need extensive training [in meditation] to realize pain-relief benefits. Most people don’t have time to spend months in a monastery."
Fadel Zeidan, neuroscientist

On the NPR Shots blog, Adam Cole highlights a study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center showing that even novice meditators are able to curb their pain after a few training sessions. Cole writes:

In the study, a small group of healthy medical students attended four 20-minute training sessions on “mindfulness meditation” — a technique adapted from a Tibetan Buddhist form of meditation called samatha.It’s all about acknowledging and letting go of distraction. …

So how did the researchers gauge the effect? They administered a very distracting bit of pain: A small, thermal stimulator heated to 120 degrees was applied to the back of each volunteer’s right calf. The subjects reported both the intensity and unpleasantness of the pain. If pain were music, intensity would be volume. Unpleasantness would have more of an emotional component, kind of like how much you love or hate a song.

After meditation training, the subjects reported a 40 percent decrease in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness. And it wasn’t just their perception of pain that changed. Brain activity changed too.

Be sure to read Cole’s article for the details.

(h/t stotheb, via almaswithinalmas)

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I saw it as a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.
- —Urban Meyer, head coach of the University of Florida football team, on his 18-year-old daughter’s jubilant reaction (“I get my daddy back!”) when he told their family on Christmas day that he is stepping down from his position.
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Sacred SpacesAndy Dayton, associate web producer
A few weeks ago I took a break to attend a week-long retreat in rural Wisconsin. A change of setting was refreshing, and perhaps necessary. Much of my week was spent walking through open fields and gardens, a nice contrast to my cubicle here at SOF headquarters. I also went on two excursions to some unique and inspiring places: Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home Taliesin, and Deer Park Buddhist Center.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. (photo: Andy Dayton)
Both of these spaces seemed to compliment each other as meeting spaces of the old and new. Taliesin’s modern-looking organic architecture was aged to the point that it almost seemed to crumble into the hillside, while Deer Park’s traditional Buddhist decorations were placed on a brand new, modern building. Both spaces carried a certain weight that stuck with me, especially the interior of Deer Park’s temple, which you see pictured at top.
Fitting then that I returned to a staff discussion about Esther Sternberg’s new book Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-being. I’ve only just started reading it, but the book focuses on the relationship between health and the spaces we inhabit — an idea that I can easily connect with my week in Wisconsin. We’ve talked to Sternberg before — first as a voice for our program "Stress and the Balance Within," then again as part of our Repossessing Virtue series. Sternberg’s book has been showing up in some unexpected places, and it’s raised the question of whether we might have another conversation with her. I look forward to continuing her book, and perhaps hearing from her again.
The view from Taliesin. (photo: Liz Sexe)
Image at top: inside the Deer Park Buddhist Temple. (photo: Liz Sexe)

Sacred Spaces
Andy Dayton, associate web producer

A few weeks ago I took a break to attend a week-long retreat in rural Wisconsin. A change of setting was refreshing, and perhaps necessary. Much of my week was spent walking through open fields and gardens, a nice contrast to my cubicle here at SOF headquarters. I also went on two excursions to some unique and inspiring places: Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home Taliesin, and Deer Park Buddhist Center.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. (photo: Andy Dayton)

Both of these spaces seemed to compliment each other as meeting spaces of the old and new. Taliesin’s modern-looking organic architecture was aged to the point that it almost seemed to crumble into the hillside, while Deer Park’s traditional Buddhist decorations were placed on a brand new, modern building. Both spaces carried a certain weight that stuck with me, especially the interior of Deer Park’s temple, which you see pictured at top.

Fitting then that I returned to a staff discussion about Esther Sternberg’s new book Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-being. I’ve only just started reading it, but the book focuses on the relationship between health and the spaces we inhabit — an idea that I can easily connect with my week in Wisconsin. We’ve talked to Sternberg before — first as a voice for our program "Stress and the Balance Within," then again as part of our Repossessing Virtue series. Sternberg’s book has been showing up in some unexpected places, and it’s raised the question of whether we might have another conversation with her. I look forward to continuing her book, and perhaps hearing from her again.

The view from Taliesin
The view from Taliesin. (photo: Liz Sexe)

Image at top: inside the Deer Park Buddhist Temple. (photo: Liz Sexe)

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Download

Repossessing Virtue: Esther Sternberg on the Economic Crisis in Biological Terms
» download (mp3, 12:28)
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor

Esther Sternberg is a scientist’s scientist. And that, I believe, is what appeals to so many of us who listen to "Stress and the Balance Within." But, it’s not the only thing. She has a way of taking objective data, verifying and analyzing it, and rendering her report. And then what makes her such a special and effective voice is her incredible ability to relate these scientific points on a personal level, often by looking inward and exposing the frailty of her own humanity.

Take, for instance, Kate’s interview with her on the economic crisis. Kate’s first question: “Do you consider this a moral or spiritual crisis?” Almost immediately, she says that she doesn’t see it in either term because she doesn’t know enough about the causes of the crises (i.e., she doesn’t have the data to make judgments, pronouncements). Rather she sees the crises in biological terms.

She could have left it at that and then talked at length about empirical data and scientific evidence. But, she rarely does. She references people and its impact on others — and then she relates by remembering her father, a Holocaust survivor who would read Psalm 23, her own anxieties about the downturn, the need for public service.

We’re releasing all of these mp3s for download in our podcast. And, check back here at SOF Observed for future conversations with wise thinkers, including Greg Epstein, Pankaj Mishra, and Shane Claiborne.

Also, we’re looking to our readers and listeners for fresh thinking and language about how to talk about the current economic crisis. How has this changed you, your family, your community? And not just financially, but in terms of personal conscience and values? We’d like to hear from you. Tell us your first person story about your experiences.

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