Patient, Heal Thyself

In an unconventional experiment some 30 years ago, psychologist Ellen Langer (ARTS ’70) brought two groups of elderly men to a weekend retreat in New Hampshire. While there, she asked the first group to reminisce about their lives in 1959, aided by old issues of Life magazine, screenings of Jimmy Stewart films, and conversations about Mickey Mantle and Fidel Castro. She put the second group in the same surroundings, but with one crucial difference: Rather than just talk or read about the good old days, she asked them to pretend they were young men actually experiencing that year as if for the first time.

Originally published in NYU Alumni Magazine in Spring 2011 by Jascha Hoffman

Watch: CBS News: Meditation, Mindfulness & Spirituality

Today mindfulness meditation is practiced in schools, prisons and even in corporate America. This show looks at the spiritual roots of the practice and how it can be used to transform society. Featured are Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual leader of the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and Sharon Salzberg, Buddhist meditation teacher and cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society.

Originally published on CBS News on June 28, 2015. 

8 Meditation Experts Share What They Do Each Morning to Stay Chill All Day

When it’s basically your job to be Zen all the time—as is the case with the instructors at MNDFL, a new meditation studio in New York City—you pick up a few tricks that help you keep stress at bay (or at least not flip out when life’s little tensions creep up on you). Since our morning routines usually involve hitting snooze, reaching for our phones to check e-mail, and rushing out the door in a frenzy—not exactly a great way to start the day on a calm, collected note—we asked several of the teachers at MNDFL to let us in on what they do each a.m. to set the tone for a more mindful, relaxed state. Let their tips inspire you to have a more peaceful holiday season this year.

Originally published on November 30, 2015 in Women's Health Magazine by Robin Hilmantel

Scientists Have Finally Proven What Yoga Lovers Have Known for Centuries

The news: When regularly practiced, periods of intense mindfulness can combat aging and reshape certain sections of the brain — no Lululemon required.

It was a simple, but enlightening discovery: When scientists looked at the brains of expert meditators, they found some startling physical changes. Extra wrinkles (which in the case of the brain happens to be a good thing) lined the cortex, the outer portion of the brain responsible for complex thinking like abstraction and introspection. The hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped brain structures that help us process memories, was generally bigger and more dense.

Originally published on July 3, 2014 in News.Mic by Erin Brodwin

Meditate This! Podcast About the Meaning of Life, Episodes 17 & 18

In a gripping two-parter, Yael Shy gives both beginner and long-time meditators sound advice on what to expect from a practice—and how to be sure it's right for you. As director of NYU's Center for Spiritual Life and The Mindfulness Project at NYU, Shy has years of experience teaching meditation and creating safe spaces for those who just want to dip a toe into this spiritual ocean. Hear her own story of triumph over serious anxiety and discover what she means when she poses the notion: "So much of our life is spent"

Originally published by Meditate This! in 2016. 

Meditation: What Are We Talking About?

We all know that meditation, mindfulness and contemplation are good for us – in fact it has become almost a panacea for all that ails us – from our personal stress, to better education, and even more effective business leaders. But really do we mean when we talk about meditation? Where does it come from and what does it do?

Originally published in 2015 on HuffPost Religion

Bringing Spirituality to Brooklyn — Alison Laichter, 29, and Yael Shy, 28

For Yael Shy and Alison Laichter, sitting down together for a morning meditation was just part of their daily routine as roommates. Two years ago, nearly a decade after meeting on a Birthright Israel trip, Shy and Laichter both got jobs in New York — Shy as director of development and education at the NYU Center on Violence and Recovery, and Laichter as an urban planner for the city — and they decided to room together.

Originally published on June 15, 2010 in The New York Jewish Week by Sharon Udasin