Mind and Life Visiting Scholars and Residential Research Workshop Programs Up and Running

Mind and Life has received a number of interesting applications and project proposals for its new Visiting Scholars and Residential Research Workshop programs. These programs allow members of the Mind and Life global community to pursue contemplative scholarship and research, or organize collaborative workshops, while interfacing closely with our in-house academic staff.

Our first accepted Young Scholar is Aviva Berkovich-Ohana, PhD (Neurobiology Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) who will arrive in April 2013 and continue to develop research into her own neurodynamic model of consciousness and self: the consciousness state space (CSS) model. She writes that “consciousness states are described by changing positions in a three-dimensional state space with the following dimensions: affect, temporal cognition and awareness. The CSS model, among other implications, attempts to explain within a united framework the different and sometimes elusive mechanisms through which diverse training methods, designed to ameliorate negative habits and human suffering, bring about their beneficial effects.”

Also arriving in April 2013 are Senior Scholars Evan Thompson, PhD (Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto) and Rebecca Todd, PhD (Affect and Cognition Laboratory, University of Toronto). Thompson reports that he will be, “examining the combined significance of Abhidharma taxonomies of mind and cognitive neuroscience research on contemplative mental training of attention and awareness for for philosophical issues about the nature of attention and its relationship to consciousness.” Todd’s aim while in residence is to “work with contemplative scholars to familiarize myself with classic Buddhist texts…the goal is to draw on a tradition that emphasizes a fine-grained taxonomy of cognitive processes to inform a model of ‘affect-biased cognition as emotion regulation’ and the research questions that can emerge from that model – including how these processes and their neural correlates are turned by specific contemplative processes.”

 All three scholars will overlap with a Residential Research Workshop hosted by a team of researchers including Catherine Kerr, PhD (Department of Family Medicine, Brown University), Cynthia Price, PhD (University of Washington), Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD (Osher Center for Integrative Medicine), and Wolf Mehling, MD (UCSF Medical Center). The workshop, titled Interoceptive Awareness and Contemplative Practice, is scheduled for April 22-23 2013, and Kerr says “we are very excited about the possibility of using this meeting to incubate a larger initiative on bodily awareness across different forms of contemplative practice (with the meeting serving as a springboard for applications to NIH and other sources of funding).” 

Finally, some promising preparations by Jake Davis, PhD (candidate) and Rajesh Kasturirangan, PhD are already underway. Jake, for example, is proposing a Secular Ethics Symposium workshop, tentatively scheduled for April 12-13 2014.

Please share news of these programs with your colleagues, students, supervisors, and departments, and submit your applications!

Questions about either program may be sent to VisitingScholars@mindandlife.org. Visit the program’s page on our website for a full summary.