The Neuroscience of Mindfulness

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Neuroscience of Meditation, Mindfulness, and Compassion

This video is part of the Mindfulness Incubator video series. (14/16)


Greetings. Will Mobley here, for the Institute for Empathy and Compassion.

And happy to be providing some new information available to you and to the UCSD community but more to the community at large. We’re collaborating with the Center for Mindfulness to provide online resources, exercises that we will hope will help with anxiety, with stress, with loneliness. We think these exercises should benefit you. We’d delighted to have you share them with other people.

This online resource is free and available 24 hours a day really through recordings, as well as through live exercises.

And I’m here together with Dr. Fadel Zeidan, who’s Assistant Professor of the Department of Anesthesiology and is Associate Director for the Center for Mindfulness, to provide us with an overview of the exercises and what we think that you will achieve by having engaged in them.

So Fadel thank you for being with me and please say a little bit about yourself and then let’s talk about these exercises, and perhaps how they work at a brain level.

Sure. Thank you so much Dr. Mobley.

I’m delighted to be working with you and our growing team on how contemplative and self regulatory practices can impact our well being, our general health, especially in light of this ongoing pandemic, in this time of uncertainty that we’re all experiencing. I’m a neuroscientist, a cognitive neuroscientist that uses multiple techniques and methodologies to better appreciate how practices like mindfulness meditation and compassion-based meditation impact our health but also how the brain and our basic physiology can inform these processes. We’re really trying to understand how these practices impact our well-being, if at all. And we’ve done some work where we were able to identify what brain regions that are associated with practicing meditation, how they reduce stress, and how they impact anxiety and depression.

That’s exactly right Dr. Mobley.

Very encouraging and, and just to summarize a little bit more, you know, this is the kind of thinking that really led us to create the Institute for Empathy and Compassion. And it’s the kind of thinking that really forged this collaboration with the Center for Mindfulness. With the idea that, in general, we want to help people deal with anxiety, stress, loneliness, especially now and that we can do this in two ways. In one way, we can simply provide these exercises that we know help people. But also, we can study them. And as we study them and their neurobiological basis, the goal is to really refine and tune these exercises so they can become even more helpful. And ultimately for us, to understand our emotional selves, how we relate to the world, and how it is that we can keep ourselves healthy, but also help those around us, our colleagues, our friends, but even total strangers.

So I’m really pleased that we’re working together on this and I really thank you for your insights.

I’m delighted to be a part of this project and our ongoing projects as we try to best find self-regulatory ways to feel better. And we’re working together also for the people listening to the video, we’re working now toward providing additional exercises and also for creating a study to really measure objectively as possible the impact of these exercises on your well-being.

And so we’d love to have your feedback and we’d love to have you participate and what we hope to bring soon to the website is a chance to volunteer in a study of efficacy. On that same website, we will list a couple of the videos that helped us introduce the institute, the new institute to the UCSD campus and we’d be delighted for you to share any of these with your colleagues, your friends, your family members. We want to serve you. We wanna serve those that you love and you care for and who care for you, and we think this is one way to do that.

So, thank you for listening. Thanks Fadel for being here, and for being my colleague and please do take advantage of our online resources. Thank you very much.


In today’s message, we find a shared commitment to fostering well-being, especially in these challenging times. The words may differ, but the sentiment remains consistent. We see an organization, dedicated to the Institute for Empathy and Compassion, collaborating with the Center for Mindfulness to provide resources that aim to alleviate anxiety, stress, and loneliness. The message is clear: these exercises are designed to help you and those around you, and they’re freely accessible to all.

It’s inspiring to see a team of experts, including a cognitive neuroscientist, actively exploring how these practices can enhance our health and mental well-being. The value of their work is underscored by scientific findings on the positive effects of practices such as mindfulness meditation. It’s not about being an expert; it’s about the accessibility of these exercises, and how just a few minutes a day can profoundly affect how we feel.

The essence of this collaboration goes beyond providing exercises; it involves understanding the emotional aspects of our lives and the impact on our well-being. This shared vision led to the creation of the Institute for Empathy and Compassion, emphasizing the importance of empathy and compassion in today’s world.

But they’re not stopping at just providing resources. They’re actively working on refining these exercises through studies that assess their impact. Your feedback and participation are encouraged, and there’s even an upcoming opportunity to be part of a study on the efficacy of these practices.

In closing, it’s evident that this message, regardless of the speaker, aligns with the values of empathy, compassion, and well-being. The goal is to serve not just you but also those you care for, extending to your colleagues, friends, and even strangers. As we navigate these uncertain times, the offer is clear: take advantage of these online resources; they’re here to help us all.

This video is part of the Mindfulness Incubator video series. (14/16)

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