Mindfulness and Neural Integration: Daniel Siegel, MD at TEDxStudioCityED

Mindfulness and Neural Integration: Daniel Siegel, MD at TEDxStudioCityED

Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Ming Gui Tan Thank you. Good morning, that was beautiful. You know, right before Fred Rogers died, his team had actually contacted me to try to present the case for why television should keep
at the pace of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. So we were about to plan that whole thing
and then he passed away. But it was an amazing thing
to think about the generations of people that have learned
to understand their feelings, to make them mentionable and manageable. What I’m going to talk to you today is about how schools
can combine with technology in the way of promoting self-regulation. So I’m going to do this with no slides,
but with one model of the brain. So if you reach under your chairs,
glued underneath there you’ll find, if you reach in there, pull out your hand
and take your hand model, there, and put your thumb in the middle,
and put your fingers over the top. This is a very – my daughter never wants me
to say this but – a handy model of the brain. It’s oriented like this. We’re going to talk about the connection
among three things. We are going to talk about this brain
that’s in your head, that has the face over here, and has a top of the brain,
the lower parts of the brain. The part of the brain connected
to the whole body comes through the spinal cord,
in addition to some other ways. This brain sits in your body – we are going to talk
about the brain and the body. We are also going to talk about the mind, which is different from the brain. And we are going to talk about the mind and its connection
to the brain and the body. Then we are going
to talk about the third thing, which is, we are going
to talk about relationships. So those three things
we’re going to cover today: talking about relationships,
the mind, and the brain. When you really think
about this for a while, you can come up with some fascinating ways where you can understand how,
for example, Mr. Rogers television show experienced by a young child
within a family setting could actually promote
something called self-regulation. And so, we’ll have to talk
about what is regulation, and we’ll have to even address
the question of what is the self. So for me, whenever we use a word, we need to make sure we understand
what we mean by it, so we have a shared understanding
if we are going to do something about it. So, how did Mr. Rogers
create the experience where kids can learn that feelings
are mentionable and they’re manageable? How did he do that? Well, when you think about how he did it, you come up
with this really fundamental way that schools, in fact,
can embrace the wisdom that Mr. Rogers had for all of us, and teach not only reading,
writing, arithmetic – very important 3 Rs – but another 3 Rs
I’m going to suggest to you, which are the core of my talk, which is reflection, first extra R, relationships, the next R, and the third one is resilience. Because when you build
a certain kind of approach to reflection, kids actually develop the capacity
to mention their feelings and to then be able to manage them, exactly what Mr. Rogers said
we ought to be able to do. And that’s the basis
of the emotional intelligence actually, and it’s the basis, as you’ll see
in the moment, of social intelligence, because when you understand
your own feelings and learn to manage them, you actually can understand other people. It’s actually incredible. So, this reflective ability
is something schools can teach. That’s the next R. What about relationships? We’re going to see that this brain
we’re going to get into in a moment has the capacity to make relationships
work really well, and people actually thrive
and feel good about themselves and good about others. So you develop kindness
and compassion toward yourself – really an important place to start – and kindness and compassion toward others. So this R of relationship really looks
at all the research on well-being and says, you know, “The number one factor whether you’re looking
at mental health, physiologic health, medical health, longevity or happiness, the number one factor in all those studies is relationships. How we have connections,
positive connections with other people is the best predictor of all those things. In fact, if you study wisdom, you find that wisdom is based
on having these positive relationships. You probably have heard
of these amazing studies which show that when you are given,
let’s say, 20 dollars, and you’re asked to spend it on yourself or give it in the service of someone else,
gifted to someone else, the circuits in your brain
that show you did the right thing, these reward circuits driven
by a transmitter called dopamine, they get active when you give
to someone else, which goes along with the study that when you give
in service of other people, you’re actually happier yourself. So if you want to be happier,
actually think about someone else. That’s the lesson from that. So relationships in schools
can teach all that. So that’s the relationship part. And now the resilience we’re going
to get into when we talk about the brain. But let’s take our hand model out
and let’s look at it. I’m going to watch my watch because part of how I’m going
to manage myself is time. So I think I’ve been going for,
I would guess, 5 minutes, but I need my timer to tell me;
there’s my timer right there. Beautiful. I guessed it right. We’re going to do
this hand model of the brain, and I’m going to teach you all
how to do this. And this is something that in schools
that I work with, we teach kids, starting in kindergarten
about this hand model of the brain. You’re going to see
that it can be very useful to do. When kids go towards adolescence,
their brain changes a lot, they really need to know
about their brain. So let’s take the hand model out. And put your thumb in the middle
and curl your fingers over the top. So this is orientation of the brain. Let’s do the parts
and let’s think about the question as we get into these brain parts. Why, if we’re talking
about self-regulation, would we care about the parts
of the brain? And what does a relationship
has to do with the brain anyway? And if self-regulation
is really a mental function, because the self
is really part of your mind, then is the mind just the brain,
or is it something else? So these are the kinds of things we need
to really think deeply about. And in the world I work in,
it’s called interpersonal neurobiology. We actually deeply dive
into these scientific questions by combining all the fields of science
that exist into one perspective. So it’s called interpersonal neurobiology. The brain is a good place
to start looking at this, because believe it or not, it’s actually
the simplest of all that stuff. So let’s go through it. First, you have the spinal cord, and this is basically
a collection of cells, neurons, that allow energy and information
to flow from the body itself, the signals coming up. The spinal cord and also a nerve
called the vagus nerve, they all bring stuff from the body up into the skull part
of the nervous system. Some people call that the head brain,
some people just call it the brain, but actually you have a brain
around your heart, and you have a brain
around your intestine. So the word brain when I use it
means the whole body and how it processes information
through the flow of energy. That’s basically
the biological understanding of what we mean by the nervous system. But the head brain
is what we’re going to focus on now, because it’s really the most studied
of all these brain parts. When you get up
into the head part of the brain, if you lift up your fingers
and lift up your thumb, you arrive at the first part
of the nervous system, first in the sense it’s the deepest, first in the sense that
when you’re in your mother’s womb, it’s the first to develop in utero, and first also meaning
it’s the first we evolved to have. So it’s over 3 hundred million years old. It’s the old reptilian brain, having collections of neurons
called nuclei that are responsible for things like – (Laughter) This is a good example.
Let’s take another pause. Let’s all turn our telephone off and make sure
that if they are going to vibrate, you have it near your body,
not sitting next to your neighbor. You turn the sound off,
because that’s another thing that happens; technology, if you haven’t noticed, invades whatever context
you’re trying to create. And rather than technology running us,
we should run technology. It’s really, really important,
because these things just take off – I was just walking home
from the local school we have, and I saw a mom carrying her year-and-a half- year-old child
in her arms, texting for two and a half blocks, and missing the opportunity
to connect with her child because she allowed technology
to intrude on her relationship. You probably know from the studies
of the University of Washington by Andy Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl
that the technology called “Baby” – it doesn’t matter what it’s called. It was technology that said, “You can have your child develop faster
in their brain and language if you show these videos,” and they showed it was just the opposite, because relationships
are what stimulate growth and learning. If we use technology, that’s fine, but if you replace relationships
with technology, this study demonstrated, you get just the opposite
of what you want to get. So we have to actually be present fully, and check out what’s happening
in the environment, and not pollute it with technology, or not pollute it
with actual chemical pollutants, too. OK, so now we’re in the brainstem. The brainstem is going
to keep us awake and alert, so it has those nuclei that do that. The brainstems are also going to have
the fight-flight-freeze reaction. When you have
a lot of competing things going on, you can have a very agitated,
fearful reaction to that, like it’s threatening, or you can have a fight reaction to that, or you can freeze. There’s even a fourth option,
which is total collapse. It has its advantages
in lots of different ways, and depending on the situation, but that’s what the brainstems
are all about – very old impulses that are created. If you put your thumb over the top,
this is the part of the brain – we have two thumbs for it to be ideal,
but most of us have just one thumb – this is a…I say that because
I once gave this lecture and I didn’t give that exception,
and someone said, “I went to a gas station,
someone had two thumbs.” We want to honor that.
So most of us have one. (Laughter) It’s left and right side
once you get up there. This is the limbic area. It developed 200 million years ago, and it also is the second area
to begin developing in utero. That goes like this. To demonstrate how this works up,
Lewis, why don’t you come up? I want to invite a 13-year-old boy,
who is going to present to you later on. Lewis, come on, say hi to everybody.
Lewis: Hey. Daniel Siegel: Come on, step
on that little red carpet. Thanks, Lewis. L: You’re welcome. DS: Have I talked to you
about the brain before? L: No. DS: No. So I’m going to teach you
a little bit about the brain, because I want to show that –
Lewis is very bright, but you can teach this to 13-year-olds
whose brains are also changing. Let’s do the hand model. Very good. Here’s what happens, Lewis: this limbic area helps you
work with the brainstem to create your emotions. It actually works closely with other areas
to create various forms of memory. Do you feel close to your mom? L: Yeah. DS: Yeah, great. So this is the part that lets you
feel connected to her, OK? Now put your fingers
over the top like that. Right. This is a part
that actually is going to grow once you come out of your mom’s belly,
out of her womb. And this is a part that’s very much shaped
by the experiences you have. Yeah. This is called the cortex;
it’s the outer part of the brain. So the back here. Turn your head sideways.
We’ll use it as a demo. Right there. So this is the back part
of the brain like that. The back part of your brain in general
represents the outside world. There’s all sorts of layers to it
and it makes maps to the outside world. Very good. And then – (Laughter) You are one handsome guy. So this front part of the brain here
is called your frontal cortex. It allows you to think and reflect. When we’re talking about reflections, this is the part of the brain
that actually lets you be able to manage and mention your emotions. Isn’t that cool? L: That’s really cool. DS: So the kinds of things
that you do in your mental life, like the mind basically is – you know like you’re playing a game,
when you feel excited? That’s sensation you call
subjective experience, and that’s a part of what the mind is. Do you notice sometimes
you can be aware of some things, and sometimes you’re not aware of things? L: Yeah. DS: Yes. So, awareness is also
part of what the mind does. But the third thing the mind does
is it helps regulate how all this information flow
is happening in your awareness, in your subjective experience, and even in how you communicate it
to other people. So the reason we’re talking
about reflection – reflection, when you look inward,
what I call time-in, develops this part of the brain. Now, take a look at these
two middle finger nails there. This is part of an area called
the prefrontal cortex. Look at me. It’s right behind your forehead,
right there. Lift up your finger and put it back down. What do you notice is kind of unique about anatomical position
of these two middle finger nails? L: That’s right under the thumb.
DS: Exactly! So it’s right under the thumb, and this is the part of your brain
that actually allows the cortex to go to that thumb area
called the limbic area. And notice is it also
near your palm? L: Mhm. DS: Yes, so it also connects the brainstem
to take information from the body, too. So it comes up your spinal cord,
up your brain stem, to your limbic area, especially in your right side
of the brain, and goes right to that area. Here’s the cool thing. Watch me. (Laughter) What did you feel
when I was doing that? L: Sad. DS: Sad, very good. Excellent.
L: Then happy. DS: Then happy,
because we’re goofing, right? L: Yeah. DS: So the sad thing, this part
of your brain actually lets you pick up what’s going on
inside of my nervous system. Isn’t that amazing? L: Yes. DS: So we have a relationship,
because I’m going to send energy to you, and this part of the brain, right there,
which is right here behind your forehead, it’s going to take in
what’s going on in me, it takes in what’s going on in your body,
like your heart, your intestines, it takes in what’s going on
in your brainstem, your limbic area, and what goes on
throughout your whole cortex. And it takes these separate things
and it pulls them together. Now, you know what the word we use for its taking separate
and putting together those? L: No. DS: Integration. L: Aha. DS: So here’s what this area does:
it integrates everything. It integrates your body, your brainstem,
your limbic area, your cortex, and even your relationships
with other people. So when you reflect on things, and you have relationships where,
like, two people honor each other, and then care about each other
with connections and communication, we call that an integrated relationship. Here’s the amazing take home message
for you and for everybody: when you have reflection, and you have relationships
that are caring and connecting, you actually stimulate the growth
of the integrative fibers in the brain, and these are the fibers
that allow you to have resilience. So the key to this whole thing is – I know you have been experiencing
video games, right? L: Oh, yeah. DS: And you’ve learned –
you watch this. This part of the brain allows you
to be regulating your impulses. Does that sound familiar,
controlling your impulses? L: Yes. DS: It allows you to do that. It allows you to actually be aware
of your feelings. It allows you to be aware
of other people’s feelings, and understand them. It allows you to be moral, think about what’s good for everyone,
including the planet. It allows you to actually have intuition. It allows you to know
where you’ve been in the past, where you are right now,
where you’ll go in the future, and allows you to tune in on other people. That you get by reflecting
on the inner world, being able to mention
and manage your feelings. It allows you to develop it when you have
the relationships that are supportive, like with teachers and with parents. And it allows you to develop all this
so you’re resilient. So here’s what I say about schools. There’s a policy that they say,
“No child left behind”. I say we should have a policy where we have reflection,
relationships, and resilience, so it’s no prefrontal cortex left behind. (Laughter) How does that sound? L: That sounds better
than “No child left behind”. DS: There you go, good.
Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you so much. You are so cool. L: You too, man. Thank you. (Applause)

64 thoughts on “Mindfulness and Neural Integration: Daniel Siegel, MD at TEDxStudioCityED

  1. 3 things
    A- i like to know how resilience curves with age starting from infancy .
    B- in 3rd world country , a child is brought up by village of people ,so lots of interaction
    but we have Autism too . Why i wonder.
    C- finally Mom who can , stay home and raise your children plz.

  2. Although I had high hopes for this talk in the beginning and I appreciate the intent, I did not appreciate his stereotypical rant of people his age against technology. I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years during most of which neither one of us owned a cell phone. When I am texting or messaging on my phone now it is to my son who I have an amazing relationship with because I spend time with him all the time. However, he is now thousands of miles away – – so I use tech to retain that closeness.

  3. And, if I couldn't have been a stay-at-home mom (I could run my own business at home) I would have had my cell phone all the time (likely on vibrate) to ensure my son could always contact me, because, family comes first. So, to criticize people who text really isn't fair without knowing the situation.

  4. This is fabulous, from my perspective and I am going to include it at Lumigrate (light/integrate amalgam word), my health education website from a functional medicine/ integrative medicine perspective, including how to reverse complex chronic illnesses. And how fabulous the unplanned / serendipitous cellular phone interruption happened to bring in education about techno's impact on us and our relationships. Particularly considering the topic at hand. Pun intended! (Love the "handy brain model"

  5. It's not this kind of reflection he is talking about. He means thought reflection, the ability to be "over" your thoughts and live in the present moment.

  6. There is a great talk by Yale's Dr. Judson Brewer on meditation and how to get out of your own way at TEDx RockCreekPark. You should check it out!!

  7. What, he said that we should control technology, isent he right on that one?, its not the car who kills, its the driver.

  8. Awesome subject matter and think his books are great, but imo, not the best presentation. I suggest finding a different one to learn/review subject; the 'tools' (talking to kid) and stories he uses here are distracting rather than illuminating.

  9. 1) This guy's "toastmaster skills" are off-the-charts good. SUPERB, CALM, and "MINDFUL" SPEAKER. Kudos to Siegel!
    — now for something you might not quite expect —
    2) Within the physical space-time matrix illusion (where the neural processes of the physical brain have central focus in study) – this guy is doing his very best.. presenting a very left-brained, analytical paradigm with scientific cachet (so parents in the matrix will believe him) to encourage people to engage in more appropriate and empowering social (vs. technological) behaviors. This is a compliment. Basically, he's MAXING THINGS OUT WITHIN THE MATRIX.. in the sense he has a good message, tremendous presentation, and people ASLEEP in the matrix will be inclined to buy in and grow.

    3) However, there's a new breed of kids (indigos, crystals, etc) being born now ,along with activated/awakened Indigo adults, who think in a NEW, powerful, heart-based, right-brained, timeless, and intuitive fashion. AND THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THE CHANGE THE WORLD!  Psychic abilities, oddly deep wisdom and maturity, past-life memory,  and/or astral_projection tendencies are some of their most common traits and (varying) abilities.

    Here's how these teens think! (ignore they are celebrities) They are not crazy.. they are Indigo children. 😉


  10. TedX is turning into religion. This man is making claims of neuroscience. He's a psychiatrist and not a researcher! Learn the difference. I really detest the cult and guru mentality in psychology. It has more in common with tent revivalism than critical thinking. Thank goodness the NIMH pulled support for the DSM. People like this are why…they talk sciency non-sense and everyone goes "Woo! – he gives me warm fuzzies!" Sad.

  11. Thank you for saying the Fight , Flight , Freeze  as so many people don't understand the freeze response that I suffer , which can be crippling . This is such a great talk , Thank you and bless you.

  12. and here is a link to a little free book on that addresses mindfulness in an entirely new way


  13. So…lets hope that the positive relationship a introverted person has with themselves will in fact help let them tick all the boxes of longevity health etc. After all, many of the people espousing such philosophy's as Fred Rogers, by dint of his personality type, must try to instill an extroverts set of values on every child, because it makes sense to the extrovert. The tangled web of need, support, assurance, acceptance, belonging, accommodating, among many other NEEDS that extrovert psyche requires, drives so much of social and/or socialisation discourse. When do we know an extrovert 'A' type personality is doing self reflection? When they are talking to other people.

  14. love this talk..but just because youre on your phone for five minutes doesnt mean youre not connected to your baby dammit. People are still humans! We cant be "connected fully" to our kids every second of every day.

  15. Hmm regarding the relationships with others – it's only a predictor I think though, and doesn't really have a causal link. It's more the other way around, with things like wisdom and mindfulness leading to better relationships with other people. I mean, look at the hermits in the mountains in China. They practice zen and taoism all day. They tend to be quite content and quite wise too, but still they live a mostly secluded life with a few limited relationships to a few other teachers and maybe a student every so often.

  16. The sharing of energy was an interesting point. Not only can you control your own emotions but the emotions of others.

  17. Yes. Give away money to be happy and end up homeless and hungry. When you're homeless and hungry, others can give their money to you, so that they can be happy. Boy, this is crap. You have to take care of yourself first, before you can help others. Giving money away to feel happy is what gets mentally ill/people with personality disorders into financial trouble and a self-destructive circle.
    And using an unknown mother carrying her child (not in a stroller, but carrying her child in her arms), as an example of a mother not connecting with her child, is unethical, at least. He talks about relationships and empathy but trashes this mom in public without even knowing her or the reason for texting. Expecting from parents to connect with children all the time, 24/7 is just not human. This guy is manipulating people like no one I've seen before. Be critical to what he is saying and how he is presenting himself. He practically asumes people at TED don't know fundamental things about brain anatomy. And he uses his hand to teach you about it. Because it's too difficult for you to understand from real model of the brain. I think he is talking about brain anatomy to make himself look like a highly educated person so that he could sell you bs later. He is a salesman, not a scientist.

  18. A major flaw in meditation research is that it does not address the affective component of meditative states, which clearly implicate relaxation and states of alert arousal and the perceptual events which elicit them. Meditation research generally relies upon comparative self-reports of meditators and non-meditators, or fmri (functional magnetic resonance imaging) or brain scans that measure cerebral blood flow. However, neither can isolate the neuro-muscular and neuro-chemical activity (e.g. activity of dopamine and opioid systems in the brain) that correlate with subjective affective states, or how neuro-muscular activity is a function of cortical activity as mapped to experience or learning. Because these research methods and tools cannot determine the etiology or source of the positive affect associated with meditation, it is no surprise that meditation remains without an adequate explanation.

    This argument is elaborated in greater detail here:


  19. I feel like I have a Cassandra complex.

    Everyone is saying how good mindfulness is and no one seems to see it for the scam that it is. 'You just don't get it' is the usual response I hear; it's amazing how unmindful and judgmental these people become when I raise any criticism.

    The biggest promoters of mindfulness make the most money from it.

    Like Yoga is just stretching, mindfulness is just resting. That's all it is.

  20. I think saying that if you want to be happier think about someone else can be a dangerous thing to say for some people.For some people they have been thinking about everyone else but themselves quite a lot.For some people thinking about themselves is what they really need to be doing and not being made to feel guilty or selfish for doing so.

  21. I heard that the heart has neural cells…?

    We need to get back to being human (humane) by weening ourselves from the hate and fear constantly promoted in the propaganda of the international media and entertainment industry. (Including professional sports)

    Spreading this can help by giving back control over our own lives and our humanity.

    What a wonderful gift to our children?

  22. " When you have reflection, and you have relationships that are caring and connecting, you actually stimulate the growth of the integrative fibres in the brain. And these are the fibres that allow you to have resilience. ' That is Awesome – :)x

  23. Moral of the story is, engage and talk to your kids and use positive instead of negative terms. Doesn't take a degree to work that out.

  24. I really love this video. As an English teacher in a middle & high school, I use your information daily in mindfulness practice SEL activities. I also loved your book, "Brainstorm". And…. I had my students watch this in class and then journal about what they learned.

  25. Watching this video along with handling other 2-3 apps alongside. Technology doesn't support mindfulness.

  26. How Mindfulness is like a magic trick

    Perhaps the best way to understand mindfulness and how it is presented is to understand magic. Acts of magic involve the magician’s connection of simple actions (pulling a rabbit out of hat) to unknown or ‘magical’ mechanisms by hiding or obscuring alternative independent measures or procedures that imply less arcane or ‘miraculous’ causes. This occurs when the mechanism of action (trap door under table) is obscured by the magician through a sleight of hand that focuses the attention of the audience on the odd behavior (wave of a wand) that merely correlates with the appearance of the bunny from the hat. The essence of the magician’s trade is deflecting or obscuring explanation by diverting the audience’s attention to absurd and fanciful procedures that have no causal link to any discernable process, but with a wink to telling the audience that a simple explanation really is available, at least when the trick is revealed. To pull a rabbit out of a hat, once explained, is old hat, thus the magician wants to keep up the mystery, and surrounds the real and simple explanation with a lot of gesticulating with magic words, hand gestures, and the waving of a magic wand. In a similar way, unexplained yet effective practices such as mindfulness have an aspect of magic. It helps that mindfulness has diverse meanings, so it can mean veritably anything. So, if you are taking a time out from distraction and just being in the moment, adding in superfluous procedural layers like deep breathing, intonations to be loving and kind, psychotherapeutic jargon, and four-day training seminars full of new age cant is easy to do for what amounts to a simple psychological hat trick.

    from ‘The Book of Rest’, at web site doctormezmer

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