Peace in the Center
Peace in the Center

The spinning wheel can be dizzying, but, in the center, there is stillness.  Similarly, the formidable waves are only found on the surface of the ocean, not when one dives deep.  Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or disturbance but to find calmness within the heart despite outer circumstances.  This episode unwraps some ancient contemplative texts, including passages from the Tao Te Ching, and reflects on the lives of a few peaceful figures.  

 

Clarity: Cutting Through The Clouds
Clarity

Beyond the clouds, the sky is always clear. Similarly, most diamonds have flaws known as cloud inclusions, which reduce the clarity of the otherwise precious crystal and limit its brilliance or shine. A diamond is the most concentrated form of pure carbon on Earth, and the flaws are often hard to detect with the naked eye. 

The human mind also has subtle clouds that obstruct mental clarity. In psychology, these are known as cognitive biases or heuristics - patterns of flawed shortcuts in the brain.

This episode explores some of the most interesting distortions that block clear thinking. By cutting through these clouds, we can naturally illuminate the mind and let the light of knowledge shine through us.

Bending Time: How Physical Laws, Culture And Mindfulness Change The Clock
Time

It flies and heals. People try to make it, buy it, save it and kill it.  Yet, there is never enough of it, and it might not be real.  It is T I M E. 

Many cultures personify and deify Time.  Kronos is the father of Zeus in Greek mythology and therefore older than god.  Hindus may worship Mahakala or the lord of time.  In America, we have the expression, "Father Time is undefeated."   Even if only imaginative mythology, it can teach the importance of respecting time and using it wisely.

This episode breaks down our ideas and beliefs about time to illuminate a radically different but potentially happier and saner approach and like a child, even a slowing down of this strangely beautiful flash of life.

(Music intro by E. Fink and song "Timeless" by Lee Rosevere)

Democracy Of Trees: What The Forest Can Teach Us About Community Health
Trees

Trees care for each other in very special ways. They have family relationships. Sometimes, the offspring of a felled tree will continue to keep the parental stump alive with its roots, even for centuries. There are bonds beyond family as well. For instance, Fir trees and Birch trees take turns supporting the other in winter and summer. Nutrients and information are shared underground via root systems and the mycorrhizal network of fungi. This is evidence for the importance of biodiversity.

The poet John Donne wrote, "No man is an island... and any man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind." Trees seem to live this wisdom and understand on some level that every tree matters to the well-being of the whole forest. If even one tree is destroyed, the eco-system becomes comprised, the canopy has a hole and the micro-climate shifts in temperature and moisture jeopardizing the health of all trees.  Therefore, they employ unique mechanisms to protect the community.  In this episode, Todd explores the philosophy, mythology, and ecology of the forest world and how it relates to human potential.

"Trees are poems that the Earth writes upon the sky." -Khalil Gibran

(Intro by E. Fink and song "Morning Walk" by Lee Rosevere)

Light In The Dark
light in the dark.jpg

The first day of winter is known as the solstice and is the shortest day of the year.  But it also indicates the return of the light and each day from that moment will be longer until the first day of summer.  

This episode explores the problem with the notion of absolute good and evil with metaphors and music as tools for getting at the heart of things.

"What is a good man but a bad man's teacher. What is a bad man but a good man's job."  -Lao Tzu

(With intro music by E. Fink)

Paradox of Humility
Humility

Humility is often defined as meekness and refers to having a modest opinion of one's importance and yet, it is practiced as a virtue in spiritual traditions around the world as a way to manage the ego and part of a path to self-actualization and transcendence.

Now, we have new scientific evidence and research from Duke University that shows how being intellectually humble actually expands one's influence, enhances leadership and makes us all-around better people. 

"True humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less."  -C.S. Lewis

(With intro music by E. Fink, courtesy of Crooked Creek Records and music by Christopher Lloyd Clarke, licensed from Enlightened Audio)

Todd Fink
Silence Is The Musician's Canvas
silence

Is silence really silent? Ordinarily, we have minimal access to and even avoid silence until it's time to retire for sleep. This episode explores the deeper significance of silence as evidenced in the work of two legendary musician philosophers of the 20th century - one trained in Western Classical music and the other in Eastern Classical music.

(Music "Through The Prism" courtesy of and written by Chris Russell)

Your Brain On Art
brain art

A mirror neuron is a brain cell that fires both when someone acts and when he or she observes the same action performed by another.  So, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were acting.  That may be why we get a dream like feeling looking at a Monet painting.  Perhaps, we can actually experience in our brains, to some extent, the inspiration of the artist during the creation of the work.  There is also a response in the brain when we look at a beautiful painting similar to that of looking at somebody you love. Mindfully perceiving art can elevate consciousness and improve our emotional health. 

(Music "Stillstream" by Russel Norman, courtesy of Crooked Creek Records)

 

Todd Fink
Intention Requires Attention
Intention

Intention is part of mindfulness practice and involves keeping one's awareness more in the present moment.  There are times when it is helpful to direct our awareness to the past and future also.  To reflect and reminisce about the past can bring understanding and happiness.  To plan and prepare for the future can help us accomplish goals and solve problems.  Beyond that, our thoughts can easily fall into patterns of fixation, rumination or obsession.  

Intention reconnects us with purpose and authenticity. Yes it can help us get better results out of the most meaningful areas of our life but the real blessing is being able to live our values even when we don't.  And that is true self-empowerment.

(Music by E. Fink, courtesy of Crooked Creek Records)

Todd Fink
Growing Grateful: Ancient origins and new neuroscience
Gratitude

Gratitude has been called the mother of all virtues and the key that unlocks all doors. This episode explores the etymology of "thank you" and the modern science of the grateful brain. Specific gratitude practices are shared that are scientifically proven to grow key regions of the brain, increase life satisfaction and enhance overall well-being.

(Music "Mindful Zone" by Chris Russell)

Todd Fink
Compassionate Communication
daisy

What we are speaks louder than what we say. This episode explores the legend of Buddha transforming Mara's arrows into flowers and how we can cultivate that power in modern life with the acronym PETALS.  Each letter stands for a mindfulness-based strategy for resolving interpersonal conflicts.

(Music from "Helix" by Russell Norman, courtesy of Crooked Creek Records; Music "Mindful Zone" by Chris Russell courtesy of Chris Russell)

Todd Fink
Anatomy of Habit
Habit

This episode explores the basic brain science behind our habits and routines and how to utilize those scientific insights, along with techniques from wisdom traditions, to experience more fulfillment. 

“You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.”                                                                                                                    -Walt Whitman

(Music by Christopher Lloyd Clarke, licensed from Enlightened Audio)

Bouncing Back: New perspectives on resilience
Resilience

Psychological resilience typically refers to the ability to regain emotional balance and stability after encountering stressful or traumatic events.  This talk explores how emotional maturity, positive attitude, and creativity influence this life skill.   Also included are recent studies and scientific evidence that expand our conventional understanding of resilience and demonstrate the need for mindful strategies for changing our relationship with problems.

(Music by Christopher Lloyd Clarke, licensed from Enlightened Audio)