which has helped us survive as a species through the long history of evolution. However, in our 21st-century world, this survival mechanism also increases our stress, anxiety, and anger, often undermining our happiness, confidence, and capacity for intimacy. Research in neuroplasticity has demonstrated, however, that we can consciously reshape our brains to override this wired fearfulness and become more confident, optimistic, and openhearted. In this workshop, we’ll survey the evolutionary basis of the brain’s threat reactivity and then explore brain-savvy methods for activating the calming parasympathetic nervous system, deepening the implicit memory for feelings of strength and safety, and strengthening the body sense of being cared for and protected by others. We’ll review practical ways to feel less separate, vulnerable, and insecure as we pursue new aspirations and life directions with self-assurance and a more positive outlook. (This session will continue with Workshop 305.)
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist with a keen interest in the intersection of psychology, neurology, and Buddhism, and an invited presenter at Oxford, Stanford, and the University of California at Berkeley. He’s the author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.