The Pharmacy of Desire

An American success story: A college graduate gets a good job and marries. The couple drives a beautiful car, a consolation for their terrible commute. Work pays well but requires callous decisions. Expensive vacations and a lovely home recompense for the sacrifice not only of time, but also of ideals. Contentment, however, remains elusive; an …

The Anxiety of Happiness

His life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever.It is the future that creates his present. All is an interminable chain of longing.—Robert Frost I’ve long thought that in this section of his poem, “Escapist–Never,” Robert Frost captures a lot of what contemplative traditions describe as craving, a source of great suffering. Craving is distinguished …

Grey Matters: The BRAIN Initiative & Mapping the Mind

The mysteries of the human brain are hidden in an almost unfathomable array of synaptic connections, cellular activity, neurotransmitters, gene expression patterns, and electrical oscillations. Even deeper than these lay the questions of how such an extraordinarily complex electrochemical system connects to our moment-to-moment experience as human beings: our perceptions, our thoughts, our emotions—what cognitive …

Meditation: It’s Not What You Think

Think you can’t meditate? Mind & Life’s resident neuroscientist explores some popular misconceptions surrounding meditation, and reasons to keep trying.