Chandana Watagodakumbura

Interested/Insightful Websites
Can we make the world more sustainable by reforming education systems using appropriate policies and practices so that the following issues are accounted/addressed?
(This page is regularly updated with new insightful web links)


On Learning & Education:

Neuroscience of Learning and Development - (Path to Developing Creative Individuals with Wisdom Leading to Sustainable Societies)
  • Compassion for individual wellbeing and social sustainability  (An initiative from a Stanford University-certified teacher of compassion. The way to go for developing wellbeing in individuals devoid of envy, hatred and anger and creating sustainable societies. YES, IT IS SUPPORTED BY A WEALTH OF NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH/FINDINGS. Practices of compassion (which is empathy + action) lead to a relaxed mind (devoid of stress, fear, anger, hatred) that helps in achieving enhanced learning (forming lasting memories) and wisdom.)
  • The Center for Compassion And Altruism Research And Education at Stanford University (How would compassion and altruism help in learning and human development through the development of stress-free, relaxed minds)
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at University of Massachusetts Medical School (How do mindfulness practices help in individual wellbeing and development?)
  • Your Guide to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (Neuroscience of mindfulness as a means of staying healthy devoid of psychological conditions such as stress, depression and unhappiness. Such conditions essentially lead to enhanced learning and wisdom (i.e. to higher levels of human development as suggested by Abraham Maslow and Kazimierz Dabrowski) 
  • How Mindfulness Is Revolutionising Mental Health Care ( Neuroscientifically Redefining Mental Health through Mindfulness Practices.)
  • Benefits of Compassion (Neuroscience of compassion reveals us that it is about our health and wellbeing. It is about being more resilient/tolerant to the unavoidable and adversities. It is about enhancing learning, creativity and wisdom. It is about attention, emotion and cognitive self-regulation through which we become more productive individuals. It is not about spinelessness or negativity; rather it is about strength and empowerment.of character.)
  • The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: Enhancing Creativity, Compassion, Critical Thinking, and Peace in Higher Education (Excellent book on educational reforms! Just completed reading (08/04/2017) - just could not believe that the topic area has evolved so much to a level that makes it possible for direct implementation. It uses neuroscience and human development perspectives as the basis for reforms and discusses attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER), cognitive regulation (CR), creativity, critical thinking, mindfulness and compassionate training practices, self-authorship, the essential need for a change in educational systems and how to manage the dramatic change involved and most importantly how individual learner development leads to peace in the world. A must read for those who are in educational decision-making/policy planning positions.)
  • Mindfulness practices that keep us away from inflammation and diseases (Neuroscience research reveals how mindfulness practices can help (in addition to helping in enhanced learning and wisdom) in managing inflammation and expression of diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease (possibly by having an impact on the immunity system)).
  • Why do children need loving care for their development? ( Neuroscience research reveals that early-life chronic stress ( due to like poverty, neglect and physical abuse) can have significant negative lasting impacts on learning, memory and stress and emotion processing. In turn, they will negatively impact on behaviour, health and employment.) 
  • New Horizons for Learning(Recent developments in learning and teaching including perspectives from neuroscience)
  • Search Inside Yourself ( How true, to bring peace to this world! On many occasions, solutions to some of the most difficult problems are within yourself (especially within leaders if they look inside themselves). Practices such as mindfulness are in the forefront. They pave the way for developing qualities such as emotional intelligence, empathy, self-awareness/metacognition, resilience and wisdom, the fundamental characteristics leading to peace, individually as well as on the whole. If one of the top organisations such as GOOGLE recognised the importance, why shouldn't the others be keen to follow their way to success?)
  • Emotional intelligence leading to world peace - the roadmap (GOOGLE engineer Meng Tan, the founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), presenting his roadmap to peace in the world through the development of emotional intelligence. How we achieve that is through mindfulness practices.)
  • The book "Search Inside Yourself" describing the emotional intelligence/human development program running for many years at GOOGLE (I completed reading the book "Search Inside Yourself" last week (11/06/2017). What an incredible experience! Few things are simply amazing. The book is about the emotional intelligence/ personal growth/ human development program conducted at one of the tech giants - GOOGLE for many years. Who would expect tech giants are to be serious about emotional intelligence/human development and the like? We would expect them to be a place for a set of nerds to work mostly with machines. Considering this general belief, it is wonderful to see that GOOGLE is giving much-needed leadership to overall or holistic human development aspect. This is lead by the GOOGLE engineer Chade-Meng Tan, who has identified that the path to world peace is developing each individual on a personal growth/human development route. Another wonder is that he has correctly put forth that mindfulness practices as the key to this goal, in an evidence-based manner. I like to see and recommend every adult (possibly teenagers) read this book in order to get guided on the personal growth/human development path.)
  • Gamma Waves and Inspiration: How Is Your Brain Vibrating? (The relationships among Gamma brain waves (which can go even to levels of 250Hz compared to an average of 10-30Hz), meditation and inspirations/creativity/consciousness/wisdom.)
  • The Marvelous Properties of Gamma Brain Waves (The relationship among Gamma brain waves (at higher frequencies between 25-100 MHz), peak concentration, high cognitive function, compassion, memory, learning, incredible information processing and retrieval capacity, self-control, happiness, calmness, meditation and the like.)
  • Gamma - Brain Waves (Gamma brain waves and its relationship to empathy and compassion. At high Gamma levels above 40Hz, it appears that we are able to synchronise (or harmonise or in harmony) our brain operations leading to a high level of consciousness. In contrast, at high beta levels such as in the range of 20-35Hz (as typically found in daily lives), the brain operations are not synchronous (not in harmony) leading to high stress/anxiety levels.)
  • Changing your mindset could be the key to changing your life (The significance of paying constant attention (i.e being mindful) to what one wants or having a clear purpose in life (reminding us constantly where we are heading). This mindfulness can be contrasted with being robotic or switching the autopilot on to get our routine tasks completed. When we are mindful of what we do, our neural networks strengthen and grow, enabling us to learn and develop wisdom.)
  • Book Review on "Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Kindness by Daniel Siegel" (24/07/2017)(In “Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Kindness”, the author Daniel Siegel, a Harvard educated clinical Professor of Psychiatry, emphasises the need to integrate cognitive and emotional functions across various part of the brain along with memory types such as implicit and explicit in order to develop healthy minds with a MINDSIGHT or with higher levels of consciousness/wisdom/human development. Without such processes of integration that are well supported by the latest neuroscientific research, individuals tend to develop negative psychological conditions, become sick or would not develop to their full potential. The key neuroscientific concepts behind the above integrative processes are neuroplasticity and epigenetics that allow us to train our minds based on appropriate environmental stimuli. Professor Siegel has given some classic examples (using real counselling cases) of how mindfulness practices can be used to develop healthier minds through the processes of integration mentioned above. He has always used these therapeutic mindfulness practices as more lasting remedies ahead of alternative approaches such as prescribed drugs that usually suppress symptoms while on medication (along with any negative side-effects). The therapeutic practices he used were essentially based on developing critical characteristics of self-awareness and self-regulation. When these skills are practised and developed, individuals become more empathic and compassionate by extending integrative processes from individual to collective lives leading to harmonious and sustainable societies, following the concepts of interpersonal neurobiology.)
  • Building Relationships with your Child: Learning to LAUGH Together (The importance of parent-child attunement for the healthy development of the child. This appears to play a vital role in an individual's social intelligence development demonstrated later in the life. The well-known psychiatrist Daniel Siegel refers to this healthy relationship between two individuals as resonance that helps to develop the relevant neural circuits in the frontal lobes.)
  • Book Review on "Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life" by Jon Kabat-Zinn (One who introduced mindfulness practices to mainstream medicine in the USA). (16/08/2017)
    In “Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn highlights the message that the practices of mindfulness are not restricted to particular times at some locations, but it can be followed in anything one does anywhere. Further, he emphasises the fact that the mindfulness practices are not rigidly associated with a particular group or religion, rather it is a way of being that any individual can benefit immensely. The essence of mindfulness practices is the notion of getting one’s attention voluntarily on what he/she does in the present moment, non-judgementally. In other words, simply it is about not performing a task with the autopilot on, following the notion of automaticity – instead, it is about getting all the brain resources focused on it in a non-judgemental way. When we pay non-judgemental attention to a task or matter, we tend to see it more openly, in an unbiased manner or we become more receptive to the information per se that reaches us.  Such an open reception of information will help us to see the reality as is, instead of through coloured glass, as is the usual case in many situations. Just imagine the strength of the idea of possessing a mind trained with appropriate mindfulness practices with the acquired skills to see or sense everything one does anywhere, anytime clearly and vividly as is, as highlighted by the author, Jon Kabat-Zinn. In fact, Jon was an emeritus Professor of Medicine who himself had been practising mindfulness meditation since the age of twenty-two before introducing mindfulness practices to the mainstream medicine in the USA through programs such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

        As an educator, I see a great value for any learner in following mindfulness practices that enable achieving enhanced    learning constantly. Neuroscience research has revealed that most of our learning is implicit and it does not necessarily take place in a formal learning environment or classroom. In regard to this revelation, imagine the extent to which a learner can benefit, or can engage in learning per se if he/she can maintain a state of mindfulness constantly by paying voluntary attention non-judgementally in everything encountered and anywhere. In a universe of information that we cannot avoid as the transmission is enabled by various technologies and media cost-effectively, the best way to respond is to be receptive non-judgementally by keeping all our sense open rather than getting overwhelmed by it and closing our receptive sensors. We should also not disregard our internal body signals that help us develop a self-awareness by identifying and reflecting on our feelings, emotions and thoughts and the like in making our all-important decisions and in enhancing our well-being. Researchers have identified that such an awareness that can be developed through mindfulness practices is of prime importance in developing individuals with healthy minds or in achieving higher levels of human development. When we progress to higher levels in human development, we necessarily involve in an integration process of both external information as well as internal body signals that enable a "whole person" development learning path leading to wisdom. Further, we as learners/individuals become better-skilled in essential human functions such as attention regulation (AC), emotional regulation (ER) and cognitive regulation (CR) so that we develop the capacities required to be more effective, empathic, compassionate, resilient and productive social members. These members are better equipped and more capable of identifying and proper addressing of so called wicked problems. 

Finally, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn, who himself has been a practitioner of mindfulness for over forty years, put the readers on a path to developing wisdom. The benefits of mindfulness practices have a radiant effect on many facets of life – in enhancing learning, healthcare, self-awareness, emotional and social intelligence, interpersonal relationships, parenting, decision-making and in short overall well-being and productive human operations.

 In “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distractions, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long - Know Your Brain, Transform Your Performance”, the author David Rock highlights the important fact that when we develop an understanding of how our brain works, we can significantly improve our daily functioning as human beings in general. Irrespective of the roles we play as employees, managers, leaders, learners or parents, by developing a self-awareness or mindfulness into how our brain functions, we can enhance our performance or productivity by being able to pay better attention, regulate emotions and control cognitive activities optimally. The phenomenon of mindfulness/self-awareness/metacognition is aptly emphasised by representing it as the “director” in the human life of stage drama. A skilful director (one who has developed mindfulness to a higher degree) is able to utilise the limited capacity stage (working memory) with greater efficiency by appropriately getting actors (information such as emotions/feelings, thoughts etc.) onto the stage optimally as and when required.

The significant findings of the human conditions required for insights/creativity/wisdom are illustrated comprehensively with the analogy of stage drama of life. Essentially, a relaxed and happy mind with an appropriate level of arousal is required to get the attention focussed. Under these conditions, we make many parts of our brain (including the right cerebral hemisphere that play a leading role in creativity) to operate in synchrony at higher frequency levels (gamma range), integrating many forms of information and signals such as thoughts, memories, emotions/feelings senses and the like. These pieces of information and signals are represented in the brain, in fact, as neuronal networks that self-organise based on the learning and experience the individual undergo, following the important notions of neuroplasticity and epigenetics. To minimise higher levels of arousal such as anger, fear and sadness so that an optimal brain operation is accommodated, the author, Rock, has demonstrated the use of mental techniques that include emotion labelling, situation reappraisal and managing expectations realistically (a principle that closely relates to the notion of equanimity).

Another key area that is emphasised in the book is the notion that the human brain is a social animal. In fact, researchers have understood that the social world or having healthy social connections is a primary human need like food and shelter. The presence of physical brain structures such as mirror neurones that help human beings to empathise or understand the minds of other human beings validate the premise of human beings essentially as social animals. Further, the author, Rock, has highlighted the SCARF (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) model as a guide (ideally for leaders/managers/counsellors/parents etc.) for making human operations or performance optimal or positive in a social world. They are primary features that human brains are implicitly yearning towards for and any threats causing a movement away from them (within an organisation or group) would result in significantly reduced human performance.

“Your Brain at Work” has also provided some useful guidance for successfully implementing a social/individual change/transformation, however small it is, based on the fundamentals of brain science. The brain is an organ that naturally attempts to minimise threats (fear anxiety, anger etc.) while maximising rewards (relaxation, happiness etc.). It has the inherent capacity to change (physically as well), as highlighted in the notion of neuroplasticity, under conducive conditions and environments. Consequently, following the SCARF model, any social/individual change/transformation should not move members away from (or at least minimise such a move to the lowest level) the features of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. Any action that makes a move away from them would result in ineffectiveness in the change/transformation process. As highlighted by Rock very aptly, the status and relatedness features in the SCARF model can compete with each other in an organisation/team environment (as status is usually a measure that compares individuals and it does not help healthy relationships). Consequently, in an ideal or healthier situation, comparison of an individual should be made to a previous status of him/her instead of against another individual. Further, the motivation for a change should be more appropriately enhanced through intrinsic (or more lasting) rewards than that of a “carrot and stick” or extrinsic type
.
Finally, as an educator, I believe that “Your Brain at Work” offers many insights that educators can make use of in teaching-learning environments. They can be used to enhance learning and motivation in individuals to progress towards higher levels of human developments with capacities of mindfulness and wisdom.

  
In “Mindfulness: a practical guide to FINDING PEACE IN A FRANTIC WORLD” by Mark Williams(an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and a co-founder of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - MBCT) and Danny Penman put forth the important message of the role played by inward-looking capacities developed through mindfulness practices towards finding peace within a world of unavoidable chaos. In other words, it is better that we actively look for developing appropriate conditions internally or attempt to develop a self-awareness, instead of waiting (sometimes forever) for solutions to appear magically and externally from a frantic world. Consequently, mindfulness is a practice that empowers individuals to take control of their lives and be content and happy with an enhanced perception of reality so long as the basic needs such as food and shelter are satisfied.

One interesting notion the authors highlight in the book is the “habit release” mindfulness practice. In the words (given in the foreword) of Jon Kabat-Zinn (a pioneer in the area of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – MBSR), it is:

"I particularly like the simple yet radical habit-breaking suggestions, what they call ‘habit releasers,' that they offer, which are meant to reveal and break open some of our most unaware life patterns of thought and behaviour, patterns that unbeknownst to us, tend to imprison us in a smallness that is definitely not the full story of who we are."

By engaging in the mindful practice of “habit release”, we switch-off the “auto-pilot” whenever it is appropriate and shift from a “Doing” mode to “Being” mode. In a frantic world, we get entangled in a “Doing” mode, trying to squeeze in as many “robotic” procedures as possible into our daily routines. We simply work like machines performing routine tasks repetitively with no time spent on reflections to see, or more correctly, to perceive what we are doing in a more detailed and creative way with wisdom/insights while being in a "Being" mode. Most importantly, the key to our health and well-being, reducing symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and similar negative psychological conditions is the increase of time in a “Being” mode while minimising the time in a  “Doing” mode.

Another significant mindfulness practice that is highlighted in the book is the development of an approach/acceptance-oriented mental state as opposed to an avoidance-oriented one even in the presence of unavoidable realities of life yielding negative emotions. That is we befriend with such emotions like sadness and frustration with a loving kind/compassionate attitude towards us as well as towards the rest of the world. Clearly, this is not passive acceptance of or resignation to the adverse conditions in a spineless manner. Instead, it is the practice of equanimity through which we get to see and understand the realities of life better, possibly through the secretion of mood-control body chemicals such serotonin at appropriate levels. Through this clear vision and perceptions, we, in fact, get to the point that we can seek real solutions to the problems/conditions that caused the adverse situation. Further, we may get to see that these real solutions may not be present immediately; we may have to persevere for weeks, months or even years at times to find and apply them in a lasting manner.
 
Authors also aptly highlight that mindfulness practices help us to avoid the rigid and inaccurate decision-making following a process of over-generalisation. When we are not appropriately mindful, possibly due to being entangled in a "Doing" mode, we tend to jump to inaccurate decisions or conclusions without having access to an adequate amount of information related to the matter. Consequently, it stops us from perceiving the realities better resulting in negative conditions such as stress, anxiety, sadness and frustration.  Worsening the situation further, we may continue to rigidly believe in what we understood as real without adequate information and without being reflective or open-minded.

As educators, we have many lessons to learn from the practices of mindfulness to enhance student learning. First and foremost, we must make sure to avoid the teaching-learning process get into a “Doing” mode. Instead, we should allow learners enough time to reflect and be mindful during the learning process. Further, during the process of learner assessment, we necessarily need to get them to a "Being" mode, disallowing them from getting into a “Doing” mode in which they produce premeditated, habitual answers devoid of reflection and open-mindedness. Such conceptual changes at fundamental levels would lead to enhanced learning and more valid and lasting learner evaluations.

BRAINSTORM: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain (Why we should teach adolescents to SURF IN THE WAVES OF EMOTION (instead of getting drowned). Let us teach them to enjoy the journey rather than narrowing their focus on the destinations such as the GREATEST GPA or SAT SCORES. Let us make them better use of their novelty-seeking and fighting the status quo thrives. Let us guide them to be candles that light the candles on either side instead of making them compete with each other. Let us guide them to make integrated brain operations ( i.e. enhanced consciousness) leading to health and well-being, kindness and compassion throughout the lifetime.)

   Impact of mindfulness practices on cognitive abilities (the link between the historical practice of mindfulness (thousands of years old)  to modern day neuroscience) - the fact that mindfulness practices improve working memory capacity ( similar to having a computer with higher capacity RAM/primary memory) is very interesting. It will allow us to keep more pieces of information in working memory so that we can get involved in a process of INTEGRATION of knowledge to make more diverse/creative connections/meanings using them. As a result, our reading comprehension improves as well. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326133339.htm?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D

  
"A loving kindness practice is literally better for our health and increases well being. Studies show that a loving kindness practice develops prosocial behavior and by focusing on compassion and cultivating more compassionate behavior." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/06/29/Kick-start-your-compassionate-brain?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D
 
"Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, promote health, and well-being, as well as to increase compassionate behavior toward others. It reduces distress to one's own painful experiences, going along with altered neural responses, by enhancing self-regulatory processes and decreasing emotional reactivity. In order to investigate if mindfulness similarly reduces distress and neural activations associated with empathy for others' socially painful experiences, which might in the following more strongly motivate prosocial behavior, the present study compared trait, and state effects of long-term mindfulness meditation (LTM) practice. To do so we acquired behavioral data and neural activity measures using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an empathy for social pain task while manipulating the meditation state between two groups of LTM practitioners that were matched with a control group."
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28504364?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BkArhHsXcSzOKYDn5hYys5Q%3D%3D
  
   


GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 
  • David Rock on "Your Brain at Work" (Why we need to manage emotions (both positive and negative ones) optimally at workplace and how we ca do it. The role of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the integrated operation of the brain ) 
  • Daniel Siegel on "Mindsight - The New Science of Personal Transformation" (How can we define mind? How can we develop healthy minds? The significance of the integrated operation of the brain)
  • Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence ( Why does EQ value more than IQ (which is valued only at a threshold level)? Why do graduate study entry scores (such as GRE scores) only measure success in the first year of graduate school, but not career/life success (This appears to be true for almost all other academic examination barriers - getting through the barrier only means an entry to the next level, but not candidate's potential in life or career)? Why high internal standards and motivation to continuously work towards them are more important in career/life success more than anything else?)
  • Thomas Lewis on "The Neuroscience of Empathy" (Why does empathy play a significant role in human species evolution and survival? Since empathic processes involve modeling and projecting other persons' perspectives, they appear to be highly creative processes. Can we infer that creative individuals are more empathic and vice versa? Further, the neuroscientific definition of empathy explains why it is an essential trait of anyone in a leadership role. Otherwise, those leaders will be very ineffective in their roles. What is the neuroscientific difference between normal human beings and sociopaths/psychopaths?)
  • Philippe Goldin on "Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation" (How can we find the relationships between clinical psychological/psychotherapeutic practices and traditional mindfulness practices so that both fields can grow and extend in their perspectives? How would mindfulness practices help in achieving attention, emotion and cognitive regulation? How would self-concept (especially experiential fluid version as opposed to analytic fixed version) and language help in the cognitive control of emotions?  )
  • Philippe Goldin on "Neuroscience of Emotions" (Neuroscientific explanations of emotions related concepts such as emotional awareness, self-awareness, self-regulation, psychological flexibility and well-being, motivation, mindfulness, empathy, compassion, cognitive reappraisal and the like. Further, why neuroscientists and researchers are very keen on studying empathy and compassion (empathy + desire to act on it) as significant phenomena for human species survival)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn (Professor of Medicine who introduced mindfulness practices to mainstream medicine) on "Mindfulness Meditation" (Mindfulness as raising awareness on the present moment non-judgmentally. It is about paying full attention(firing all cylinders) on an object in one's working memory. Since you do it non-judgementally, without an urgency to rush through (that is very much time insensitive manner), your mind is calm and relaxed (all senses, thoughts, emotions/feelings, actions/behaviours etc. are in harmony/synchrony), possibly helping to form new neural networks of knowledge, forming as many connections as possible in a coherent, meaningful manner. That is, one is able to identify new relationships with a flexible/open mind (being creative and insightful without being hampered by stereotypes) among pieces of knowledge held in working memory. Consequently, it should help creating lasting (long-term) memories. Further, a characterising ability of mindfulness practices is the development of self-awareness or self-knowledge. With this self-knowledge, one not only understands oneself better but also, using it as a reference, he/she tends to understand others better (possible more empathically).)
  • Charlie Halpern on "Practicing Wisdom in the Obama Era" (Mindfulness in legal practice - is it possible and is it necessary?. The need of mindful political leaders with empathy and wisdom to meet contemporary challenges. Are our societies suffering from empathy deficits (similar to budget deficits)? Is empathy a naive luxury?)
  • Richie Davidson on "Transform Your Mind, Change Your Brain" (The link between contemplative practices and science. How can empathy be trained and what are the benefits? Better capacities of immunity/healing for practitioners of empathy - realisation of true human features!)
  • Robina Courtin on  "Be Your Own Therapist" (How can one be one's own therapist to get rid of neurotic thoughts en route to developing healthy minds? In order to achieve this, one has to look into oneself. The famous psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski  held a similar notion of auto-psychotherapy, especially in relation to training "psychoneurotics")
  • Daniel Goleman on "Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence" (How is the term "flow" defined (as in positive psychology) in contrast to boredom and stressful conditions? It is a state in which thinker/learners engrossed in the matter at hand even losing track of time and space. Why is this ability to get to this state important for excellence in terms of creativity, productivity, wisdom and the like? Further, it appears that it is an individually identified characteristic in which one needs to recognise one's state of flow on his/her own, ideally)
  • Matthieu Ricard (regarded as the happiest man in the world) on Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions for Authentic Happiness (The relationships among happiness, inner conditions, outer conditions, mindfulness practices, neuroscience, wisdom, compassion (as the opposite of self-centeredness), loving kindness, well-being, Gamma waves in the brain and the like )

On the Outcomes of Competition in Education:
   
On Human Development:

On Gifted and Creative Individuals, Sensitivities, Misdiagnosis and Psychological Conditions:

  • The poem by Kazimierz Dabrowski on sensitive, gifted individuals - "Be Greeted Psychoneurotics" (Our highly competitive societies are losing these delicate but highly useful creatures)
  • Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner(An insightful book on giftedness by psychologist Linda Silverman)
  • Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, Ocd, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders ( An insightful book by the reputed psychologist Dr James Webb (founder of SENG) on stigmatising gifted individuals)
  • Gifted Individuals as Changemakers (Born With Social Justice Genes (i.e. High Sensitivity Genes)) (“Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both (the oppressed and the oppressor).”)
  • Doctors concerned anti-psychotics increasingly being prescribed as sedatives for troubled children(Prescribing antipsychotics for sleeping problems)
  • Anti-psychotic medication overprescribed to Australian children, experts say (More on misdiagnosis of psychological conditions)
  • Are selective schools the best place for gifted students?(Interesting discussion on the gifted and gifted learning. We can further add: Can giftedness be simplistically defined as a higher achievement or do we have intrinsically gifted characteristics that in some way relate achievement? Does providing a challenging environment for gifted minds mean pushing them into a higher competition?)
  • Is It A Cheetah? (It appears that the destruction of human potential in a traditional classroom is not applicable only to gifted learners, but to everyone. However, the gifted may feel the impact more. One major contributory factor for this destruction appears to be the artificially created domain or disciplinary boundaries that forcefully limit human creativity. In this regard, discovery learning through active learner engagement appears to be a promising and effective alternative, instead of the teacher forced curricula and content.)
  • The Gift of Emotional Overexcitabilities (Sensitivities) (How can we develop metacognitive abilities of these gifted individuals so that they are able to regulate their emotions? Research reveal that mindfulness practices play a key role in making gifted individuals more emotionally intelligent.)
  • Fire Chasers – Intensities(Sensitivities) to the extreme (Overexcitable in an overall sense (Dabrowski's overexcitabilities in extremes))
  • Would you consider yourself an introvert? (Introversion is not something to be cured of as some understand it; take the positives associated with it. Everyone should develop an understanding into introversion/extroversion so that we can develop sustainable societies through a better, deeper understanding of human nature, oneself and fellow human beings.)
  • Why bad moods are good for you: The surprising benefits of sadness (The famous polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski observed that even personal tragedies help towards human development to higher levels. We see that if one can overcome significantly sorrowful /challenging conditions/environments he/she becomes more resilient, compassionate and understanding. Further, such experiences appear to make them more creative (as research shows) and better/balanced/optimal decision makers. However, it appears that the real challenge is to survive the period during which the individual undergoes the experiences of sorrowful/negative conditions.)
  • Tips for Parents of Intense Children  (The need to pay the right attention to children (and adults as well) with INTENSITIES such as emotional, intellectual and imaginational as described by the famous psychologist and psychiatrist.)
  • How to Charm Gifted Adults into Admitting Giftedness: Their Own and Somebody Else’s ("In my current experience and view, the biggest “social issue of the gifted” is the painful misfit between implicit beliefs about giftedness by the non-gifted and the gifted alike and the actual or perceived reality of very many gifted adults."
    How can we make individuals believe in their capacities so that they can rely on them towards reaching higher levels of human development?)
  • Discovering the Gifted Ex-Child "The achievement orientation that has always existed for adults and is now taking over the field of gifted education, makes it difficult for the gifted to understand the qualities of mind that make them different. Such an understanding is essential to honoring the self."
    "The first act of honoring the self is the assertion of consciousness: the choice to think, to be aware, to send the searchlight of consciousness outward toward the world and inward toward our own being. To default on this effort is to default on the self at the most basic level. To honor the self is to be willing to think independently, to live by our own mind, and to have the courage of our own perceptions and judgments (Brandon, 1983)."
    How we support individuals/learners in enhancing consciousness/mindfulness is the key to their healthy progress towards higher levels human development.)
  • The Self-Education of Gifted Adults ("In short, we need to have lived for a number of years to collect the experiences necessary for self-education and conscious personality development even to be possible. The process cannot be rushed. Understanding grown-up potential as Dabrowskian personality development rather than as mere self-improvement can give us an entirely new perspective on time and life, on what matters and what doesn’t. It also can prompt us to re-evaluate how best to nurture the life-long, personal potential of our children, rather than focus solely on academic timetables and curricular achievements.")
  • Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children (Psychologist, Dr. James T. Webb (Founder of SENG - (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) speaks. "Many of our brightest, most creative, most independent-thinking children are being incorrectly diagnosed as having behavioral or mental disorders, such as ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Stigmatizing labels can harm their sense of self, and treatment may be unnecessary and even harmful. Some health conditions, such as allergies and asthma, are actually more common among gifted children, but are overlooked or the giftedness component neglected. Though teachers cannot diagnose, research indicates that teachers are important in suggesting referrals. Because few psychologists, physicians, or other health care professionals receive training about gifted children, educators and parents must become informed. Based on recent research and clinical experience, this workshop describes ways to differentiate whether a child suffers from disorders such as ADHD, or whether the child is simply showing gifted behaviors. Additional focus is given to dual diagnoses of gifted children, those who are twice-exceptional (2e).")
  • The Ultimate Plan to Help Gifted Education (and Improve Education for All Kids in the Process) ("What would we ask for if we had the support of our state and federal governments for gifted education? Well, the things the gifted support organizations like NAGC and SENG and others ask for — teachers who understand gifted children; flexibility in teaching so that kids with gifted traits can achieve and learn every day, no matter what their skill levels (as all kids deserve); schools that are able to work with families to support gifted kids with social and emotional needs; time for students to explore and invent and create; socialization opportunities for gifted children to find peers..")
  •   
    The trouble with giftedness (and associated overexitabilities/sensitivities related vulnerabilities) "In short, highly intelligent individuals are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing psychological and physiological disorders according to the study published in the journal Intelligence, online October 8, 2017." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/10/10/High-IQ-Hyper-brain-and-hyper-body?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D
     
    "High emotional capacity is a blessing and a curse. Without high emotional intelligence individuals like St. Teresa of Calcutta would have not impacted our world so profoundly. We need these individuals to open our eyes to be more empathetic, caring, and develop creative solutions to better society. Even with all of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s massive progress, she suffered silently with her faith and the vulnerability of the human condition. Gifted individuals with a high emotional intelligence are told they are too sensitive that they just need to get over it, and that they take too ...." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/07/26/Emotionally-gifted-and-navigating-the-world?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D
     
    "Teach them MINDFULNESS, or other relaxation techniques. We recognize the intensities in gifted children, and we are often at a loss as to how to respond to them. Keep in mind that our children are in the same situation—feeling their intensities and not knowing how to channel them in constructive and creative ways. By our modeling and practicing mindfulness meditations and teaching them how to self-soothe and relax when they feel they will explode, we help them throughout their lives. These practices will most likely have positive health benefits. Thus, we can allow their creative intensities" http://sengifted.org/28-acts-of-kindness-for-the-gifted/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D


On the Relationship between Mental Illnesses/Conditions and Sleeping Problems/Deprivations:
  • Why sleep could be the key to tackling mental illness (The interesting relationship between sleep problems/deprivation and mental illnesses/conditions (such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia) is worth noticing. Once again, we are reminded of the significance of living a balanced life towards overall wellbeing. Especially, those highly sensitive/overexcitable individuals would become susceptible to sleep problems and their consequences. As neuroscience research reveals, mindfulness/metacognitive practices could go a long way in developing more relaxed minds devoid of anxieties/sensitivities leading to a good night's sleep.)

On Globalisation:
  
On Inequality:

On Health & Wellbeing:

On Immigrants, Economic Growth and Quality of Life: 
  
On Employment, Job Market and Economic Status:

  • Australia's jobs market highly gender-segregated, little change over past 20 years(Shouldn't our employment space change in the presence of a changing world filled with robots and applications of artificial intelligence)
  • Are Australian households on the edge of a debt crisis?  ( Do we lack consciousness on debt both as individuals and governments?)
  • Bob Dylan asked these questions decades ago, and 'populism' is not the answer (The real issues of a society - can populism solve them?)
  • Recruiting outside the box: You can get a job at a big firm with any degree  (This appears a right step forward. We have a chance to destroy disciplinary boundaries in academic programs and in learning. Further, it gives us a chance to take implicit learning (the most common form of learning though disregarded by contemporary educational systems) of individuals into consideration. Can academic institutes do justice by employing more appropriate assessment frameworks displaying true characteristics of learners? Hope the trend survives and will be embraced widely towards more sustainable and just societies.)
  • Why top companies are ditching degree requirements for some jobs ( A very interesting discussion on the value of credentials, the prestige of the institute and University degrees on the whole, especially when the focus is on narrow specialisation! The question is: "how can we reform the education systems for future needs of the world?")
  • Rise of the machines: Is a universal basic income the answer for mass unemployment? (UBI (Universal Basic Income) should provide for basic needs of individuals. It would help us to move away from the jungle theory of survival of the fittest. and give a more human face to our operations. Consequently, individuals should be able to engage in more creative activities (even though not very lucrative), balancing life and work more efficiently to enhance overall wellbeing.)
  • Structural problems are allowing employers to hide profits from workers: ACTU (Is wage stagnation caused by threats from automation, temporary work visas or student workers (who don't have a say on their pay) either alone or in combination? Have employers become more powerful (in comparison to unions) and exploiting the prevailing labour market dynamics to earn higher profits? How will this trend impact on measures such as productivity, overall economic growth and social sustainability?)
  • The shopping trolley pushing up economic growth (Why do governments and independent economists/reviewers always interpret the same data/results/pictures in contrasting ways? Is this what we call "political" viewpoint/decision-making? Who does the general public trust more?)
  • International students urged to speak out about workplace exploitation and intimidation (An interesting study/investigation.)
  • Slavery is a bigger problem now than when it was 'abolished' — and it's happening here ( "The fact that slavery can be hidden deep inside multinational supply chains blinds us to its presence and can make us all unwitting enablers." )
  • NAB rebounds with $5.3b profit, announces 6,000 job losses ( Much predicted effects of automation/digitisation are already here! The trend will extend to other industries as well in no time. We should not complain, instead see this as an opportunity or catalyst to evolve better in the right direction. Our education systems have been producing individuals to cater for the outcomes of the industrial revolution that took place over hundred years ago. We need to seriously think about changing the paradigm from producing individuals to undertake routine work to produce individuals with creativity/wisdom to take care of their lives more mindfully. 
  • Migrant workers in Australia chronically underpaid, finds study (One culprit of wage growth stagnation/or low wage growth in Australia - chronically underpaid migrant workers. Possibly true for other similar economies.)
  • Blackmail — the business plan for cheaper wages (A new and apparently widely used business model - Blackmailing. It may appear superficially that it affects only the exploited migrant workers. But if you dive deep, it affects the broader economy of the country. This is another proof of what Leonardo da Vinci famously said "Everything is Connected to Everything Else" "Bringing people into the country, paying them below minimum wage, is not a recipe for economic success.")
  • Stuck on the jobless treadmill  (Long-Term-Unemployment! Higher than during the GFC in Australia. What are the causes and where are the solutions coming from? What strategic decisions our education systems can take to avoid these situation in future?)
  • You won't see a bump in your pay packet any time soon (Wage stagnation in Australia despite a reasonably high jobs growth - some very good/real analysis/reasons! High population growth, mainly through migration High number of temporary visa holders/workers including students Misconceived "trickle-down economics" theory On the first two reasons - The primary focus of migrant workers and temporary visa holders is to find some sort of employment, not about the size of the pay packet. Further, in comparison, their expectations are lower as well (in trying to adjust and survive). These facts are contributing to lower wage growth.)

On Automation and Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

On Homelessness, Social Security and Housing Affordability:
  • The man without a home (Is homelessness a problem with the person without a home, society, governments or status quo?)
  • Finland pays unemployed citizens a monthly income in trial (Can we provide the basic needs so that individuals are better prepared to produce creative outputs?)
  • House prices: When will we get to the point that we just say NO? (Are we diligent enough to take all factors into consideration when making an important decision like this? Or, are we just giving in to our emotions? Are we metacognitive enough?)
  • Westpac: Landmark Federal Court case over lending practices sends message to other banks (Is this how financial institutes make record profits even when times of economic downturn? Are they accountable enough for their machine generated decisions? Is the liability only lies with the borrower, including the mortgage insurance? How just and sustainable is this approach or system? Will this create a mass scale social problem?)
  • Upcoming federal budget (and housing affordability around the globe): Leilani Farha (This is a classic example of how contemporary social problems are so entangled and integrated together - housing affordability, investment, safe wealth parking, inequality, foreign buyers, globalisation, narrow short-term economic development only perspective etc. Are these levels of increasing inequality and decreasing housing affordability (globally) sustainable? Are we heading to chaotic futures globally? What are the remedies taken by governments and policy-makers? Are they SENSITIVE enough to these issues or cannot picture out the real nature? Where can we find leaders SENSITIVE to these issues? Can our contemporary education systems produce such leaders? Or do they produce leaders of only narrow specialisations with single discipline views?  Can at least the UN provide right guidance and direction towards sustainability?)  
  • Home ownership in Australia in decline for three decades: Grattan Institute  (An interesting trend analysis in housing affordability in the country that holds the world record for the highest number of quarters without an economic recession! It good and appropriate to see mainstream media openly discussing permanent renting options in Australia similar to many other advanced economies.)
  • Homelessness: What can Australia learn from Finland's housing solution? "Permanent housing cheaper for governments" - yes they would most likely save from many other long-term expenses such as mental health-related issues, hospital bills, justice system related issues, prisons, lost productivity etc. etc. (the list will go on).
  • Why your council rates should be three times higher(Very interesting and pragmatic change-proposals to some important taxes - the introduction of property tax instead of stamp duty and insurance payments! Mainly it can be a change of perspective - paying an ongoing tax vs one-off tax at the time of purchase. Many would like to keep away from an ongoing tax while more positive about one payment.)
  • 'Too old to keep going': Older people at risk of homelessness jumps by 50pc in NSW, data shows (Where are the solutions coming to these negative trends developing? Where is the sustainability of our societies?)
  • Poorer Australians bear the brunt of rising housing costs (Very interesting and useful trend analysis - home ownership over a period of over 35 years. It is not surprising that homeownership depends on the income/wealth level. However, this dramatic decrease in homeownership among low-income earners has been the result DESPITE having an ongoing period of over 26 years of recession-free economic growth in Australia. How can this be explained? Does this mean higher/better economic growth relates to increasing inequality/decreasing housing affordability/increasing negative social conditions and lower social sustainability?)
  • A tale of two cities reveals vast gulf in housing affordability (Interestingly, it appears that the value of a house/unit/property is mainly decided by the location rather than the condition of the house/unit. A house built 30-40 years ago will have more or less the same value as that of a relatively new one (however, we cannot disregard that older blocks have larger land sizes, but new houses could have better conditions such as higher energy ratings). Further, house prices in different suburbs of the same state/province can vary vastly purely for reasons such as the availability of popular primary/secondary schools. As a result, it appears, somewhat strangely though, that if one is looking for a more affordable  place to live, he/she will have to go to the extreme extents of relocating.)

On Alcohol and Drug Reliance

On Domestic Violence
  • Australian police deal with domestic violence every two minutes (Is this where our society is heading to? Is it the outcome of our contemporary education system?)
  • WHO says violence against women is a 'global health issue' (Are these the outcomes of our education systems' inability to fulfil the essential need of "whole individual" development that addresses attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER) and cognitive regulation (CR)? Education needs to be broadly defined beyond obtaining a limited set of skills in a specific disciplinary area. It essentially needs to incorporate generic attributes such as AR, ER, CR, critical thinking and creativity etc. Recent neuroscience research reveals that mindfulness and compassion training practices as part of the mainstream education system help us making appropriate positive changes (due to neuroplasticity feature) in our learners' brains.)
  • Vincent Shin: Australia's first school lawyer confronts family violence in his past (Some important lessons to be learned! How many of individuals in similar situations survive to be positively contributing social members? (How many will be sieved out of the system? Can human potential be portrayed accurately in an examination or under time-limited examination conditions?)

On Environmental and Social Sustainability

On "Everything is the Economy or Economic Management" (Narrow)Perspective
  • On International Women's Day, why do we ignore mothers?  Is "Everything is about economic development or management perspective" losing its steam day by day? Shouldn't we be more conscious and open-minded? Shouldn't we pay attention to human development aspects? Is economic development going to magically produce human development? 
  • Why you're about to pay through the nose for power (Why is it so important that our leaders take decisions leading to sustainability! How can a decision that appears so convincing, albeit narrowly, becomes a disaster at another time? How can we improve our decision-making capacities? How can we be mindful in our decision-making using creativity and critical thinking to avoid pursuing vested interests? )
  • Where the money laundering buck stops, the CBA faces record fines (Interestingly the same old wisdom - everything is related everything else or simply the connectedness of this universe. Senior management decisions on mere profit increases devoid of holistic views/sustainable development to the use of high tech for automation to turning a blind eye to regulatory body advice/warning to creating money laundering opportunities to creating avenues for funding terrorism to inflicting employee redundancies/layouts to pursue ever-increasing profits despite economic downturns. Where are the solutions for these so entangled problems? Shouldn't our education systems provide a starting point for possible solutions at the grassroots? Shouldn't our education systems take initiatives to promote "whole person" development instead of a single-sided, narrow focus? With a "whole person" development approach, we would be in with a chance to produce leaders with broader visions leading to social sustainability.)
  • The Commonwealth's top Execs hit with a pay cut over money laundering allegations (Interesting discussions and views on bank money laundering allegations! It is very interesting to wait and see where all these will end.)
  • NAB may join CBA in AUSTRAC's sights over money laundering and counter-terrorism breaches (Another one of top 4 banks (in Australia) to join the club of money laundering and counter terrorism breaches! Where are we heading to?)
  • NAB sacks 20 bankers for selling 2,300 'liar' home loans (More revelation of high profit yielding banking industry (Australia) issues/malpractices! This time liar loans! As per some investigations, these loans can add up to 1/3 of the home loans. Is this the tip of the iceberg?)
  • Tip Top drivers being 'worked to death' as families call for greater responsibility (An example that illustrates that health and well-being is very important (especially at the work place), if not THE most important requirement. Especially, chronic sleep deprivation can have fatal consequences.)

On Big Data Impact: