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Global Scientists Gather to Examine Benefits of Meditation
More than 700 neuroscientists, social scientists, and contemplative scholars are meeting in Denver to explore the human mind from every angle. The gathering is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date.
Symposia speakers include luminaries from the world’s most prestigious institutions, such as Harvard University, Brown University, the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Zurich, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) will discuss his new book, A Mindful Nation, in which he advocates using contemplative practices to address a host of current national concerns. Wellesley College past-president Diana Chapman Walsh will deliver the opening keynote address.
The research presented at the Symposia reflects scientists’ findings that contemplative practices, such as meditation and mindfulness, can produce measurable effects that alleviate suffering and improve well-being, including reducing addiction, pain, post-partum issues depression, and anxiety disorders, as well as improving educational performance, leadership, and overall physical and mental health.
Arthur Zajonc, former physics professor at Amherst College and the new president of the Mind & Life Institute, says that the gathering is significant in several ways: Researchers in this field are far-flung, and this conference offers a chance to build a global research community that can share results and insights and greatly increase the effectiveness of the work. Also, most of the scientific research into the human mind has been basic research, where the Denver event represents an initial effort to move to application of results. And finally, instead of involving only neuroscientists, as many mind-research conferences have done, the Symposium involves neuroscientists, social scientists, and contemplative scholars as equal partners.
“This is an important opportunity for the Mind & Life Institute,” Zajonc says, “because it exemplifies our interest in an integrated research method that brings all of our human capacities to bear on important problems that block human flourishing.”
For more information on the International Symposia, visit www.contemplativeresearch.org.
About the Mind & Life Institute
The Mind & Life Institute is a Hadley, MA-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building a scientific understanding of the mind through the investigation of contemplative practices in order to reduce suffering and promote well being. The Mind & Life Institute implements this mission and vision through a strategy of integrated initiatives including Dialogues and Publications, the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute and accompanying Varela Awards, the Mind and Life Humanities and Social Sciences Initiative, and the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies (Denver ׀ April, 2012 ׀ www.contemplativeresearch.org)