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Mindful self-compassion residential: first morning, doubts & overview

Well this is interesting.  Here we are - Catero, my wife, and I - at the start of a five day workshop on "Mindful self-compassion" run by Chris Germer & Christine Brahler at Drangshlid, Eyjafjoll on the south coast of Iceland.  We flew into Reykjavik yesterday from Scotland, met up with a fellow course member who wanted to share transport, picked up our hire car and headed East on a two & a half hour or so's drive here.  Such a landscape ... bleak, beautiful ... in places a bit like driving across Rannoch Moor in Scotland.  And then arriving in time for supper.  Forty participants.  About twenty five are from Iceland and then there are about fifteen of us "foreigners".  And what a mix we foreigners are - from Estonia, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Canada and just three British.  The course is being run in English as Chris is from the States.

Paired meditation deepens interpersonal connection: how to go about it

Yesterday I wrote the blog post "Paired meditation deepens interpersonal connection: Tania Singer's wonderful ReSource project" which introduced & overviewed the recent, very impressive ReSource Project.  I also discussed the associated JAMA Psychiatry research paper "Effects of contemplative dyads on engagement and perceived social connectedness over nine months of mental training: a randomized controlled trial" with its abstract including the comments "Secularized classical meditation training programs address social cognition, but practice typically occurs alone.

Paired meditation deepens interpersonal connection: Tania Singer's wonderful ReSource project

Yesterday I was skimming through the JAMA Psychiatry journal and I got hijacked by Kok & Singer's recent article "Effects of contemplative dyads on engagement and perceived social connectedness over nine months of mental training: a randomized controlled trial".  The abstract reads - "Importance  Loneliness is a risk factor for depression and other illnesses and may be caused and reinforced by maladaptive social cognition. Secularized classical meditation training programs address social cognition, but practice typically occurs alone.

Recent research: articles from the winter journals

I read a lot of research.  When I find an article of particular interest I download it to my bibliographic database - Endnote - which currently contains close to 25,000 abstracts.  I also regularly tweet about emerging research, so following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (click on the relevant icon at the top of this web page) will keep you up to speed with some of what I'm finding interesting. Additionally you can view this highlighted research by visiting Scoop.it (click on the "it!" icon at the top of the page).  At Scoop.it, I stream publications into five overlapping topic areas: Cognitive & General Psychotherapy, Depression, Compassion & Mindfulness, Healthy Living & Healthy Aging, and Positive Psychology.

Personal social networks (5th post): the frequency of conflict

Personal social networks are hugely important for our health & wellbeing, as I've underlined in the first of this six post sequence - "Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model".  However our personal networks are also regularly affected by conflicts, especially with those we're close to.  It's not a surprise - if you're very close to someone, it's likely you'll sometimes step on each other's toes.

More to follow ...

Personal social networks (3rd post): assessing how we're doing

If you'd like to clarify and potentially look after your personal social network better, a good place to start is to chart it. You can download a simple blank chart here either in Word doc or PDF format.  Filling in the whole "Personal community map" can take a good hour or two, so possibly ... at this stage ... just put your support clique into the most central circle.

Personal social networks (2nd post): the sympathy group & the full active network

I recently wrote a blog post on "Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model".  I emphasised the huge importance of our social networks for improving life expectancy, protecting against psychological disorders, and boosting our happiness & wellbeing.  What's not to like?!  I went on to introduce Robin Dunbar's work and his layered model of personal social network structure.  I then talked about the key inner support clique layer.  Outside the support clique is the sympathy group or - stated possibly less awkwardly - outside our very closest relationships we have a layer of close relationships.