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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.

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.  Here are a set of four slides that illustrate this point:

Personal social networks (4th post): birds of a feather flock together

I've recently written three blog posts about relationships - "Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model", "Personal social networks (2nd post): the sympathy group & the full active network" and "Personal social networks (3rd post): assessing how we're doing" Towards the end of the second of these posts I said I particularly like the paper "Do birds of a feather flock together?"&nbsp

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.

Personal social networks (1st post): Dunbar's 5-15-50-150 model

Relationships are immensely important for both our health and our wellbeing ... for how long we live, our resilience to psychological stress, and for our levels of happiness & life satisfaction.  This is crucially relevant for pretty much all of us.  The post "Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking" clearly links the state of our personal social networks to how long we're likely to live.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - aspects of self-compassion

I've woken early.  Lying here I feel an unfamiliar hollow pressure in my gut.  What is this?  Fear?  Anxiety? Tension?  "Tense apprehension" seems to fit.  I'm lying here in the early hours of the morning, a hollow tense apprehension in my belly.  And it isn't surprising.  Pretty normal in fact as I move closer & closer to major surgery.  Consciously.  By my own decision.  On this journey, travelling down the "kidney donation river", I can hear the roar of the approaching rapids.  Surgery soon.  It's a pretty standard, basic, healthy response to tense a bit as I move towards the crux, possibly the most intense section of this "donation river".  And I don't have to tighten the rest of my body around the belly apprehension.  I can let go, loosen in my arms, my face.  It's OK. Nothing to do right now.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - goals and journey

I'm due to donate a kidney soon, and I have been writing about what's involved - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering", "Kidney donation: what are the risks?" and "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central".  Primarily these posts are for other donors, but aspects of what I write are also relevant for facing challenges more generally as well.

European Positive Psychology conference: 3rd day - prioritizing positivity, befriending, compassion genetics, & transcendence

I wrote yesterday about the "European Positive Psychology conference: better 2nd day - culture, use of strengths, loving-kindness, education & passion".  This third day was also full to bursting with intriguing presentations.  Barbara Fredrickson gave the 9.00am keynote on "Why prioritize positivity?". Barbara is a bit of a star of the positive psychology world, so having her on first looked a good way of encouraging conference attendees to arrive on time.  Sayyed Fatemi spoke on "Positive psychology and psychology of possibility".

Learning about aging from a trip South visiting friends

Catero, my wife, and I are just back from four days in the South visiting friends.  We're blessed with some lovely friendships but, partly because most of us live pretty busy lives, it's easy not to see people who live quite far away for months or even years.  A while ago we decided to at least partly remedy this, so we booked four days off our work and contacted old friends who lived along the South Coast of England, from Dorset through Hampshire to Sussex, to set up reunions.  We got back last night.  Over the four days away we saw seven sets of friends.  It was lovely ... really heart-warming, poignant, fun, fascinating.  And that's what I'm writing about here ... the fascinating bit. We saw seven sets of friends aging and we shared how we ourselves are getting older.  We range from our mid-50's to late 70's (Catero & I are in the second half of our 60s).

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