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Two Essential Books on MindBody Communication for Healthy Longevity

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

A Paradigm Shift in Longevity

My extensive investigations of healthy centenarians in the Blue Zones and beyond, confirm what my colleague Ellen Langer, PhD has been researching and teaching at Harvard for over 40 years. If you want to live a long and healthy life, mindfulness is the main ingredient.

But you might be surprise to know that the way that Dr. Langer and I independently arrived at our definition of mindfulness does not require meditation. It is rather a consciousness of curiosity and novelty learning in daily life. In my view, although structured meditation, which I practice daily, is centering, calming, and very beneficial for general wellness, it is not sufficient to achieve the mindfulness taught in The MindFul Body and The Mindbody Code books that I am introducing here.

What Dr. Langer found in her psychosocial research about the effects of context on health and the aging process, I independently observed in my neuropsychological and psychoneuroimmunological work with healthy centenarians. In fact, most centenarians I investigated don’t know how to meditate. Many however, engage in prayer, and other spiritual practices that have contemplative benefits similar to structured meditation. While many studies show consistent benefits of structured meditation such as TM (Transcendental Meditation) and others in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other illnesses as well as increasing longevity, very few include centenarians in their cohorts. In other words, little is known about how centenarians delay the deleterious effects of aging without practicing meditation mindfulness.

Meditation is a contemplative mindfulness bringing non-judgment and non-attachment awareness to internal experiences: a stream of consciousness as the observer without guiding the observation. Although these are powerful internal methods of calming the mind (focused state) and observing consciousness (contemplative state), they do not include external methods of novelty and conditional learning that are taught in the enactment mindfulness proposed in our two books. In other words, as soon as we end meditation, we shift to an outer mindbodyculture perceptual mode: from observing to enacting experiences. The mindfulness proposed in our books is self-in-the-world, aware of our purposeful actions, with curiosity and novelty detection as tools for discernment.

By differentiating meditation mindfulness from enactment mindfulness, we can appreciate their individual benefits and collective value. I am well aware that meditation has extending benefits including compassion, patience, belongingness, and other attributes that enrich our lives. However, these added values are not necessarily the same as what enactment mindfulness intends to teach. Whereas meditation mindfulness enhances observational learning, enactment mindfulness teaches novelty detection and conditional learning.

When it comes to centenarians, they are grateful, assertive, self-valuing, resilient, and most important, very curious. High on novelty learning. Consequently, although meditation mindfulness is a robust contributor to our wellbeing, I propose it is not sufficient to enact the centenarian consciousness that leads to healthy prolonged longevity. Enactment mindfulness cultivates the causes of health.

Longevity Mindfulness

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