Taking in the Good:
Weaving Peace, Happiness, and Love into Your Brain and Yourself

Rick Hanson, PhD

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An 8-week course with Rick Hanson, PhD

March 14th — May 2nd, 2012  (Registration is now closed)

Taking in the Good is an 8-week live telephone and online course taught by Rick Hanson, PhD, and presented by the Institute of Noetic Sciences. This course offers practical tools, grounded in the latest neuroscience, for everyday well-being, healing old pain, personal growth, and spiritual practice. Through presentations, experiential activities, and discussions, we’ll focus on the power of positive experiences to change the brain for the better.

The course will meet each Wednesday evening by telephone from 5-7pm (Pacific Time). 5-6pm will be time with Rick, which will be followed by an hour of moderated participant discussion. Recordings of the weekly sessions will be available to those enrolled in the course. Registration is required.

Course Objectives — after taking this course the student will be able to:

  • Describe experience-dependent neuroplasticity, and how the mind changes the brain
  • List neural factors that strengthen mindfulness
  • Explain how the brain evolved to meet our three fundamental needs: avoiding harms, approaching rewards, and attaching to others
  • Contrast the brain's response when these needs are met and when they are not
  • Describe the brain’s negativity bias, threat focus, and vulnerability to the Reactive mode
  • Explain how to use inner resources to meet needs, get out of the Reactive mode, and come home to one's true nature
  • Recognize how to bring positive experiences into emotional memory in order to build inner resources
  • Define the process of taking in “antidote experiences” to soothe and heal anxiety and anger, loss and drivenness, and rejection and unworthiness
  • Demonstrate understanding of how to pair positive and negative experiences to heal old pain and “fill the hole in the heart”
  • Identify why minimizing the Reactive mode and entering, sustaining, and deepening the Responsive mode is the foundation of healthy individuals, fulfilling relationships, humane societies, and a peaceful world

Taking in the Good is part of IONS' unique transformational learning series based on scientific findings and designed to encourage the development of consciousness-based practices in healthcare, education, and a more sustainable world.

When you change your brain, you change your life.

Registration Information  |  Course Details  |  About Rick Hanson, PhD  |  Course Member Links |  FAQs

Registration Information & Instructions

Registration is now Closed


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Course Details

This course contains eight modules. Each involves a one hour teleclass with an additional hour for discussion, related materials (e.g., Powerpoint slides, articles, other talks or videos), suggested practices to deepen learning and growth, and bulletin board opportunities for additional comments and support. You can participate in the live teleclass and/or listen to it later – and you can access the related materials and bulletin board any time you like. Audio recordings of the classes will be available to registered course members for one year.

See also Frequently Asked Questions.

Course Modules

March 14 – The Enchanted Loom
Brain basics. How the mind changes the brain. Getting on your own side. Self-compassion.

March 21 – The Power of Mindfulness
The critical role of attention in changing the brain. Neurological diversity: from “turtles” to “jackrabbits.” Brain-savvy ways to deepen mindfulness.

March 28 – The Good Brain
The reptile, mammal, and primate/human layers of the brain that evolved to meet our three fundamental needs: avoiding harms, approaching rewards, and attaching to others. The brain’s natural resting state of peacefulness, happiness, and love – its Responsive setting – when these three needs are met. The brain’s Reactive mode when it’s disturbed by unmet needs. The brain’s negativity bias and its vulnerability to Reactive “hatred” (fear, anger, aversion), “greed” (frustration, disappointment, grasping), and heartache (loneliness, unworthiness, and longing).

April 4 – Resourcing Yourself
The importance of inner resources. Explicit and implicit memory. Compensating for the brain’s tendency to be Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. Three steps to internalizing positive experiences in implicit memory. Turning toward the good facts in the world, relationships, and yourself. Clearing obstructions to taking in the good.

April 11 – Filling the Hole in Your Heart
How losses and wounds affect us. Key “antidote experiences” for disturbances in the brain’s avoiding, approaching, and attaching systems. How to pair positive and negative experiences to heal distress and dysfunction. Considerations for trauma.

April 18 – From “Hatred” to Peace [guest teacher: Cassi Vieten, Ph.D.]
Activating the calming, soothing parasympathetic nervous system. Building inner strength, feeling safer. Managing aversion to what’s unpleasant. Giving no one cause to fear you.

April 25 – From “Greed” to Happiness
Neural nodes of liking and wanting. Managing grasping for what’s pleasant. Taking in goal attainment. Feeling glad, grateful, and fulfilled.

May 2 – From Heartache to Love
Healthy narcissistic supplies. Managing longing for what’s intimate. Feeling seen, included, valued, and loved. Why a healthy brain is a benevolent one.


8 Continuing Education Credits are available for this course. 

IONS is certified through the following agencies:

  • Marriage Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers – The California Board of Behavioral Sciences, provider #PCE 3885
  • Nurses – The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), provider #10318

CEs for psychologists are provided by The Spiritual Competency Resource Center which is co-sponsoring this program and is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. SCRC maintains responsibility for the program and its content.


About Rick Hanson, PhD

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This course is taught by Rick Hanson, PhD, a neuropsychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain and Just One Thing. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on NPR and the BBC, and his weekly e-newsletter – Just One Thing – has over 31,000 subscribers. For more information, please see his full profile at


For Registered Course Members


If you are already registered for this course and you are logged in, you have access to:

1. Course Resources page
2. Audio Recordings of Class Sessions (Audio is posted by end-of-day on the Friday following each week's class.)

Discussion Questions:

All of the discussion questions used during this course are available as a downloadable word document on the Course Resources page (link above).



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