2005 – XIII

The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation

Co-Sponsored by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and
Georgetown University Medical Center

Investigating the Mind 2005:
The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation: Exchanges between Buddhism and the Biobehavioral / Medical Sciences on the Potential for Healing Suffering and Disease

DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC
November 8 – 10, 2005

This latest Mind & Life public meeting “Investigating the Mind 2005: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation” builds on the growing interest in meditation within modern medicine and biomedical science that has arisen over the past thirty years and further explores the emerging clinical opportunities.

Meditation is becoming Mainstream

Various applications of meditation have already made their way into the mainstream of medicine and psychiatry in the treatment of stress, pain, and a large range of chronic diseases. At the same time, the power of newer non-invasive technologies have made it possible to investigate the nature of cognition and emotion in the brain as never before, and to begin to explore the interfaces between mind, brain, and body, and the impact of particular forms of disciplined meditative practices.

These investigations also offer opportunities to explore modulating and regulating biological pathways to restore or enhance homeostatic processes and extend the reach of both mind and body in ways that could promote rehabilitation, healing and greater overall health and well-being.

This nascent field offers multiple opportunities for extending the understanding of the human organism and its own potential for health and healing, and for understanding the basic unifying mechanisms of the brain, mind and body that underlie awareness and our capacity for learning, growing, and healing, and for effective adaptation to stressful and uncertain conditions.

Mind & Life Dialogues

Mind & Life Institute XIII is the latest in a series of dialogues between scientists, the Dalai Lama, and other Buddhist contemplatives on areas of mutual interest at the intersection of western empirical science and the contemplative traditions and their associated methodologies, psychologies, and philosophies. Prior to 2003, all of these meetings have been held in private; however books describing them have been published and are widely available. (See the complete list of Mind & Life books)

Investigating the Mind 2005: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation is the second Mind & Life Dialogue that will be open to a large audience, consisting primarily of people working in the fields of medicine, clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, as well as students in these fields.

The first public dialogue of this kind was held at MIT in September of 2003 on the interface between Buddhism and neuroscience. As a result of that meeting, further studies of various interfaces between neuroscience and the meditative disciplines are currently underway in the laboratories of some of the presenters and participants at that gathering. In addition, an annual, week-long Mind & Life Summer Research Institute was started to advance the field of the scientific study of meditation, and a number of studies have also been initiated by participants in that program.

Scientific Studies of Meditative Practices

Though still in the early stages, there have been efforts to scientifically study the clinical application of meditative practices as well as the physiological effects of meditation in both novice and advanced practitioners. This meeting is a further opportunity for some of the scientists who have contributed most to this field to present their approaches to the Dalai Lama and a panel of other scientists and contemplatives.

This exchange will also provide an opportunity for scientists whose basic research is focused on mind-brain-body interaction to learn more about meditation and to contribute to an ongoing dialogue about the mechanisms by which meditation may be affecting our physical and mental health.

The assembled scholars, clinicians and contemplatives will engage in a collective inquiry about what is known within the contemplative traditions that might be relevant to a deeper understanding of the mind/body connection.

Meditation Moves into Clinical Applications

Meeting participants will also review the strengths and weaknesses of the current science and clinical approaches, and together, based on the intersection of these different but complementary epistemologies and traditions, identify new lines of research for potential clinical applications within medicine and psychiatry.

Scholars, clinicians and contemplatives will further explore the domain of biological mechanisms through which mental training might impact peripheral biology in ways that are beneficial for health.

For complete conference information please see www.investigatingthemind.org