Look Inward

Employ mindfulness techniques and embrace calm.

Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett

Philosopher, Writer and Cognitive Scientist

Look Inward
  • Overview
  • Episodes
  • Recommended for you


Whether in your personal life or in your career, mindfulness is essential. Learn how to harness the power of calm, how to work collaboratively to achieve common goals, the importance of meditation, and even how to begin “a love affair with life as it is.” Hear from meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, research director and physician Andrew Newberg, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (and happiness expert) Emma Seppälä, and more.

What You'll Learn

  • How to harness the power of calm

  • How to work collaboratively to achieve common goals

  • The benefits of meditation


7 Episodes

1. Paying Attention on Purpose: A Love Affair with Life As It Is


Your brain is regularly inhibited by aversion, apprehension, greed, and fear. Mindfulness exercises can help you change that. In this lesson, medical professor and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn introduces you to the physical, emotional and relational benefits of mindfulness, or, in Kabat-Zinn’s words, “a love affair with life as it is.”Studies suggest that, thanks to neuroplasticity, a regular mindfulness practice can change your brain architecture.Mindfulness may impact your gene activity, or epigenetics, in ways that benefit your health.A mindfulness practice may also have anti-aging benefits.Mindfulness is a practice of openness in the present moment. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts, our emotions, and our relationships with others.

2. Improve Brain Function through Meditation


Neuro-theology pioneer Dr. Andrew Newberg uses fMRI and other neuro-scientific tools to study religious experiences in the brain. In today’s lesson, he discusses how meditation, even in a completely secular context, can be a very powerful tool for improving brain performance.“If you’re at your desk and you feel like the world is just flying around you and you need to take a moment,” he says, “you can literally just sit there at your desk, put everything down. You can close your eyes and hopefully you can close your door or block out your ears and just concentrate on your breath.”After following a meditation exercise that Newberg recommends, “you will feel that little bit of rejuvenation,” he says. “You’ll feel a little bit better focused, and you’ll be able to go back to concentrating a little bit better on whatever the next task is at hand.”

3. Harness the Power of Calm: Tap into the "Rest-and-Digest" System to Achieve Your Goals


In the fast-paced workplaces and productivity-focused societies we inhabit today, many people share the unspoken belief that anxiety is the price of success. Emma Seppälä, a Stanford researcher on human happiness, recommends tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system instead—“rest and digest” rather than “fight or flight”. Aiming for energy management rather than time management will give you the resilience you need to excel at the things that really matter in your life and career.Build inner resilienceThere’s a misconception that in order to be successful, we have to be stressed.We tend to rely on adrenaline to meet the demands that come our way. We over-caffeinate, overschedule, and procrastinate. As a result, we exhaust our system. We burn out.Rather than relying on your “fight-or-flight” stress response, learn to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The idea is to strengthen your “rest-and-digest” response to promote self-restoration. Activating t...

4. Use Intuition Pumps as a Testbed for Thinking


Older than the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys is the argument between those who trust in intuition and those who trust in rational thought. And as with all ancient feuds, everybody’s a little bit wrong. Intuition is a conviction you hold without knowing exactly why you hold it. Sometimes it’s the end result of a long, mostly unconscious thought process. Maybe it’s a brilliant solution, and maybe it’s a dud.Philosophers have long understood, though, that intuitions are powerful tools for idea-testing. Using thought-experiments like Plato’s famous cave allegory, they arrive at and test intuitions for rational validity. Philosopher Daniel Dennett calls these thought-experiments “intuition pumps”. Inventing your own intuition pumps to fit your professional challenges is a great way to consider possible solutions before investing serious resources in them.Intuition: A conviction that you discover without knowing how you arrived at it.Don’t trust your intuitions. Do tak...

5. Enter a State of Group Flow: Play Your Part in Achieving Common Goals


To the uninitiated, the idea of a “flow state” sounds like magical mumbo jumbo. A state of immersion in the present so complete that time drops away, productivity increases, and you’re left with a sense of complete satisfaction. But while it’s true that flow states feel magical, they aren’t magic. They’re what work is supposed to feel like. And for a business or a team, the “group flow state” is the most effective working rhythm of all.Group flow: A collective state of consciousness in which individuals in a group forget time, have fun, and are highly productive.Working well with others makes us feel as though we’re an important part of producing something that nobody alone could produce.Contribute to your group’s flow state by bringing:your individual talenta managed ego and good listening skillsyour unique ability to respond to what other team members do in innovative waysDon’t forget the audience. Operating as an ensemble creates thrilling results not just for you, the...

6. Evolve Your Emotions


We live in our emotions, explains renowned medical researcher Dr. Rudolph Tanzi. Our emotions and overall outlook on life correspond to different parts of the brain. How you decide to approach your life determines which parts of your brain become activated. If you allow fear and worry to rule you, the brain stem is exercised. If you embrace things like creativity, empathy, and community, you activate the frontal cortex.These decisions — the choices you make in how you want to live life — have ...

7. Impact Your Well-being on a Cellular Level


In this lesson, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi makes the case that healthy lifestyle changes may not only help you feel better today but may help you prevent the expression of genes that cause disease. This understanding comes from the science of epigenetics, or gene activity.

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