Rated 5 out of 5 by veek I found this course both practical and elevating. The teacher is a “tour guide” who can add perspective and joy to our understanding of mindfulness, therapy, involvement, kindness, and meditation.
Who May Benefit Most: If you want to expand or explore another dimension of mindfulness practice, to add an element of motivation for an existing practice, or to investigate mindfulness as part of psycho-therapy, this course may be for you.
The course requires an open mind about methods compatible with many classical Buddhist psychological insights (IMHO an evidently rich, defensible, uniquely introspective generalizable foundation for understanding the mind), but I thought he avoided religious opinions.
Impressions on the Scope of Course: Dr. Siegel begins by defining Mindfulness, suggesting how to develop or refine a practice (as much a skill as a method), and showing its positive value both historically and in modern research. He examines how mindfulness can greatly help manage current medical/psychological/social challenges, the relationship between the mind and stress/strain, and how mindfulness engages and gives perspective to problems rather than trying to ignore them or overcome them with conflict. He suggests many habitual and often-useful mental operations (which we often take for granted) inevitably create difficulties, and how mindfulness can manage them and lead us forward. He also emphasizes mindfulness, like mastering a sport or playing an instrument, requires practice and refinement, while positive mental states (including compassion and equanimity) are both a product and a condition for mindfulness. Kindness and compassion (including for our own minds) are indeed large parts of the practice. Finally, Dr. Siegel ends with useful guided imagery and meditation exercises and he summarizes practices discussed in lectures.
Instructor and Presentation:
-- Dr. Siegel’s enthusiastically good-natured teaching style rarely seems contentious, condescending, sarcastic, or dogmatic. He often sounds like he’s ready to start a joke (in fact, he often uses “one of my favorite cartoons is …” to make a point).
-- I listened to the course, and can’t imagine you’d miss much by taking the audio.
-- The Course Guidebook seems to follow the lectures well, and I found it useful to review these notes after the lectures. The Bibliography was strong, although many of the sources from books and articles may not be readily accessible and few web-based resources (other than links) were given.
Strong Points: I thought the "good-points-to-not-so-good-points ratio" of this course was high. It can help cultivate an understanding of the mind and our lives, in a way that can help end suffering. It's nice to observe Dr. Siegel take a fairly complicated topic (like the dangers of self-referential thinking) and explain it simply but accurately – his discussions are helpful and they make sense. By adding Kindness to the standard therapeutic definition of Mindfulness, he pragmatically brings it much closer to the classical Buddhist definition of Mindfulness. He covers a broad range of interesting topics, including how our usual way of self-experience can produce inevitable problems, how attention can blend with empathy in relationships, suggestions for selecting the right method of mindfulness, and why it often takes skillful effort to be positive.
Precautions: Dr. Siegel presents Mindfulness as almost entirely beneficial, good for everything from soup to nuts, and always the best approach (implied in Lecture 7). I think this may be a bit utopian, may understate the discipline involved, and risks some disappointment or unrealistic expectations for several reasons. A second precaution is the course seems to present some diseases as perhaps-too-largely psychosomatic, so if you have something like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome, you may encounter some pique at the implication that “much of it’s in your head.” I’m a clinician not a therapist, but think we need humility in making blanket diagnoses.
Disclaimer: I have a Buddhist practice but am not a psychotherapist, have never had (or plan) psychotherapy, and couldn’t tell you much about it … but I enjoyed the course.
June 14, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by artillo the science of mindfulness
Very good course to gain entry into the realm of mindfulness.
June 9, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by bj71 Mindfulness - Professor Ronald Siegel
Wonderful course! Well worth the time and money. One small issue I had with Professor Siegel, however, was when he was in 'full lecture mode', he had a tendency to speak quite rapidly - a little hard to follow sometimes.
June 3, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by AnAvidLearner Mindfulness - a clinical or scientific perspective
First, I am glad I bought this course.
I wrote a review about another mindfulness course (1933). That was also a good course. In that review, I talked a little about what mindfulness was (something new to me at the time).
Here, I thought it might be useful to compare the 2 courses:
- Course No. 1933: Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation
- Course No. 9303: The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being (this course)
They are both extremely good. They differ in their approach.
In #1933, Dr. Muesse provides a very personal, empathetic introduction to mindfulness. He introduces mindfulness exercise and then picks out an example from a non-Buddhist religion or philosophical school and says “see, in … religion, they do this too. It is simply called something different”. He cites parallels from all areas: branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, ancient and modern philosophers.
He also poses mindfulness as a solution. He discusses an example problem common to people – death, depression, grief, anxiety and so on – and then illustrates how mindfulness might help. He then usually follows with a historical parallel as substantiation.
His underlying argument: all these very different ways of living independently developed mindfulness as a core method for leading a happy, satisfying life. Perhaps adopting mindfulness will help you, the student, in your own life.
In #9303, Dr. Siegel uses patient examples from his own practice as a clinical psychologist as method to introduce a particular facet of mindfulness practice. He talks about the impact mindfulness had on that patient’s challenge(s) and may bring in other clinical case examples. He then summarizes by discussing clinical or analytic study(ies) that substantiate or prove the effect he was relating.
Dr. Siegel’s thesis: mindfulness has been proven to work. There are clinical studies with placebo controls, analytic studies using MRI imaging, anatomical studies of the brain etc. that all show that mindfulness has a measurable, positive effect on practitioners. Mindfulness is thus a regime of mental exercises that are clinically proven to help people lead a happy, satisfying life.
In #1933, Dr. Muesse makes his case by analogy. In #9303, Dr. Siegel shows that mindfulness is proven to work.
I think you should buy both sets of lectures. Which set you buy first depends on your personal circumstances.
• If you are in “a rough patch” – depression, death in the family and so on – get Dr. Muesse’s (1933) set first.
• If life is going well, you want to take things to the next level, you’ve heard about mindfulness, curious etc., get Dr. Siegel’s (9303) lectures first.
I, fortunately, got Dr. Muesse’s lectures first. I was in a rough patch. Dr. Muesse’s empathetic, emotional approach was able to “reach” me and I made it through the lecture set. In that state, I would not have completed Dr. Siegel’s lectures.
Conversely, had I been my old, highly analytic self, I would have tossed Dr. Muesse’s lectures as a new-age looney but Dr. Siegel would have been interesting.
To continue with the comparison on a mechanistic level:
1) Dr. Siegel (9303, this course) provides stand-alone mindfulness exercises at the end of the last CD. You can go directly to the instructor-guided exercises without hunting through the CDs. Dr. Muesse’s set provides roughly the same exercises embedded in the lectures so you would need to hunt.
Personally, for both sets, I found the instructor’s voice distracting when I tried the exercise. I went through them once with the CD and then practiced on my own from then on.
2) I thought Dr. Muesse was slightly more polished. He would transition between camera angles without pause or obvious prompt. I noticed Dr. Siegel used a clicker and may have had a teleprompter. I also thought Dr. Siegel became better and significantly more at ease through the course of the lectures.
Both lecturers are superb and deliver content far better than I could ever hope to accomplish. You might argue that I noticed the difference because I was becoming more mindful.
3) Dr. Siegel explicitly made the point that there are many different types of mindfulness exercises and that you need to match the exercise(s) to the problem or effect you’re trying to achieve.
That was an important point for me. I added several exercises that helped a great deal.
That information may have been present, perhaps implicitly, in Dr. Muesse’s lectures. If so, I missed it.
4) Ironically, Dr. Muesse, who is largely Buddhist, used detailed examples from many other religions. He does discuss Buddhism and sometimes discusses particular facets of Buddhist belief or history in detail. He also discusses other religions, in the context of mindfulness, in notable detail.
Dr. Siegel, who probably isn’t Buddhist, only uses Buddhist religious examples.
Please note that neither course is about religion. Dr. Muesse, a religious scholar, uses examples across all religions. Dr. Siegel only uses Buddhist examples – when a religious example comes up.
Both approaches work extremely well for their respective lecturers. I noticed the difference and thought it interesting.
Again, I recommend both mindfulness lecture sets. I would not try completing them in parallel so you would need to watch them sequentially. I suggest considering the above when you chose which one to try first.
June 1, 2016