Talking ACEs and building resilience in prison

The Biology of Mindfulness and Mindlessness — A Neuroscientist’s Perspective

“Psychological phenomena, such as stress, rumination, and anxiety, are often thought of as abstract concepts that you cannot touch, feel, or see. But the fact is, these experiences are firmly grounded in biology.” – Brian Pennie Image credit : Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

I spent most of my life mindlessly obsessing about the past and the future. I was consumed by anxiety and tormented by my mind, but completely unaware of the source of my suffering.

To escape my pain, I used drugs, resulting in 15 years of chronic heroin addiction. Heroin brought me to the very edge, but I was lucky. Pounded into submission by the most painful night of my life, I was forced to look at the world from a completely new perspective.

That was in October 2013, when I was first introduced to mindfulness. Since then, I’ve become an author, a Ph.D. student, and a lecturer at the top two universities in Ireland, all in the area of the neuroscience of mindfulness.

Understanding the science underlying mindfulness and meditation can be a powerful motivation for anyone building these habits. But it’s especially…


Talking ACEs and building resilience in prison

They’re the forgotten, the 2.3 million people in US prisons. The overwhelming majority of them have experienced significant childhood trauma. Before you click out of here, this isn’t another boo-hoo story, as some of you might describe it, about the dismal state of our corrections system, for inmates and guards alike. (Oh, yes, it is profoundly dismal.) This is a story about how one tiny part of it isn’t so dismal, and actually addresses head-on the fact that most (91 percent) of the approximately 2.3 million prisoners will finish their sentences and go home. To your neighborhood. So….wouldn’t you want the prisons to help these guys and gals so that they, and by definition, we, come out happier and more well-adjusted than when they went in…


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