SRI 2013

at the Garrison Institute, Garrison, New York, June 15-21, 2013

Athur Zajonc makes opening remarks at the Summer Research Institute

Mapping the Mind


The 2013 MLSRI will be devoted to the theme, “Mapping the Mind.” This theme is one of the Mind and Life Institute’s new Strategic Initiatives, and this year’s Summer Research Institute will play a key role in launching this initiative. Drawing on research in neuroscience, basic psychological science, clinical psychology, and philosophy and contemplative studies, this year’s MLSRI will focus on the effort to develop comprehensive maps of the mind and its potential for development and transformation. Such an effort includes the development of rich conceptual, phenomenological, and scientifically based taxonomies of mental processes, as well as scientific investigations aimed at understanding functional interrelations between key cognitive, affective, and volitional processes and their behavioral expressions. From this knowledge important implications for translational research in clinical, educational, and other social domains can be discovered.

SRI poster session

The purpose of the MLSRI is to advance collaborative research among scientists, contemplative scholars, other humanities scholars, and contemplative practitioners, based on a process of inquiry and dialogue. With this unique program, we are not only nurturing a new generation of scientists interested in exploring the influence of contemplative practice and meditation on mind, behavior, brain function and health, but are also fostering the development of new fields of research collectively referred to as the “contemplative sciences” (including contemplative neuroscience, contemplative clinical science, contemplative education, and contemplative scholarship). The aims of the contemplative sciences are to advance our understanding of the human mind and how training the mind through the use of particular contemplative practices can lead to a reduction in suffering, enhanced health and cognitive/emotional functioning, greater happiness, and increased social harmony. Work within the contemplative sciences, deriving from intellectual dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, other distinguished contemplative teachers and practitioners, scientists, philosophers, and contemplative scholars, has integrated the rigorous methodologies of modern science with the rigorous philosophical and experiential insights into mind and mental training offered by the world’s ancient contemplative traditions.

Within the umbrella of the contemplative sciences is contemplative neuroscience, a subfield of inquiry concerned in particular with understanding changes in brain function and structure that come about as a function of contemplative practice. Contemplative neuroscience is grounded scientifically on the body of research related to neuroplasticity, which holds that the brain flexibly changes in response to experience and training of various kinds, including contemplative methods that have developed over many centuries. Such practices can be conceptualized as forms of physical and mental training that lead to the development of specific kinds of complex self-regulatory skills and dispositions including, but not limited to, the skills of mindfulness, compassion, and happiness itself. This field of research has been enormously productive throughout the last decade. Contemplative clinical science is a field concerned with systematically and rigorously evaluating the physical and mental health effects of clinical interventions derived from contemplative traditions. The rate of publication of randomized, controlled clinical trials of contemplative based interventions has particularly accelerated in the past decade, with this research focusing on a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Contemplative scholarship, although long-established within humanities disciplines such as history, philosophy, and religious studies, has only more recently begun to interact collaboratively with contemplative scientists and practitioners. The early results of these collaborations indicate great promise for our understanding of the importance of culture, historical context, and conceptual frameworks in the relationships between contemplative practice, experience, biology, and behavior.

The specific goals of the Summer Research Institute are:

  1. To cultivate strategic dialogue between neuroscientists, clinical scientists, other scientists of mind and behavior, humanities scholars, and contemplative scholars/practitioners to discuss and develop new research collaborations and protocols to explore the mind from an integrative perspective, including both first- and third-person approaches, and the effect of contemplative practices on mind, behavior, brain, and health.
  2. To create a container for this dialogue that embodies a contemplative orientation, via meditation and yoga instruction, daily contemplative practice periods, a full day of silent contemplative retreat, and a closing contemplative musical performance.
  3. To foster a new generation of nascent scientists (graduate students and post-docs) and contemplative scholars and practitioners interested in innovation and collaboration in research into contemplative practices.
  4. To catalyze the field of contemplative sciences, focusing on the study of how contemplative practices engender effects on brain, mind and behavior, and how these effects are conditioned by culture, history, and other contextual variables.
  5. To examine the emerging best practices, future opportunities, and challenges within the contemplative sciences.


SRI 2012

The Institute is a quasi-retreat in which opportunities for deep dialogue across disciplines, as well as inquiry through first-person meditation practice, are optimized. Formal mindfulness/awareness meditation and yoga practice, with appropriate instruction, and periods of silence, are an integral part of the program, allowing all concerned to have an extended first-hand experience of what is involved when engaging in contemplative practice. This contemplative practice context also underscores the challenges of honoring and learning from first-person experience. In addition to daily meditation sessions that will take place morning and evening, there will also be a silent, day-long “mini-retreat” led by the contemplative faculty to extend and deepen the experience, understanding, and challenges of meditation practice. The natural beauty and cloistered atmosphere of the Garrison Institute, coupled with the informal and collegial nature of the gathering, all contribute to a relaxed but vigorous community of intention and mutual respect. The Faculty will consist of basic scientists, clinical researchers, and contemplative practitioners, scholars, and teachers. The Summer Research Institute will be restricted to 150 participants, as innovative and interdisciplinary scientific conversations and potential collaborations and new projects are more likely to develop successfully with a limited number of committed participants.


The 2013 Mind and Life Summer Research Institute will be held at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY, 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson River Valley. Please see the Garrison Institute website for more details.


The Summer Research Institute will begin mid-afternoon on Saturday, June 15, and continue for 6 days, ending on the morning of Friday, June 21, 2013.

Preliminary Schedule of Topics
Saturday June 15 Opening Session and Orientation
Sunday June 16 Mindful Mapping
Monday June 17 Affect and Attention
Tuesday June 18 Day of Silence and Meditation
Wednesday June 19 The Nature of Consciousness
Thursday June 20 Development and Transformation
Friday June 21 Departures

2013 SRI Faculty

Michel Bitbol, PhD
Richard J. Davidson, PhD
Jake Davis
John D. Dunne, PhD
Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD
Maria Heim, PhD
Thupten Jinpa, PhD
Alfred Kaszniak, PhD
John Makransky, PhD
Sara McClintock, PhD
John Peacock, PhD
Luiz Pessoa, PhD
Claire Petitmengin, PhD
Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Catherine Shaddix, MA
Robert Sharf, PhD
Evan Thompson, PhD
Rebecca Todd, PhD
Arthur Zajonc, PhD

Application and Registration Schedule

  • January 18 – Application opens
  • February 18 – Application closes and materials due
  • March 26 – Notification of applicants (via email), registration opens
  • April 16 – Registration closes
  • June 15 – Opening Session and Orientation

There is a non-refundable application fee of $45. The registration fee for Research Fellows is $450; for Senior Investigators, $700. This fee covers room and board for the program. In addition, each participant will be expected to cover his/her own travel expenses. Registration fee should be paid by accepted applicants at the time of registration. NOTE: Your application does not ensure acceptance, as participation is limited by facility size, program guidelines, committee review of your application information and your letters of recommendation.

How To Apply

The application period for the 2013 SRI ended on February 18

Who Should Attend

  • Research Fellows: Trainees, including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows conducting research in neuroscience, biological and medical sciences, cognitive, affective, and other psychological sciences, clinical sciences, and humanities disciplines, will be considered “Research Fellows”. Dharma students or other students at the undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral level studying contemplative traditions, philosophy, or humanities will also be considered “Research Fellows”
  • Senior Investigators: Established academic researchers in these same areas who hold university or college faculty appointments (full-time, clinical or adjunct) at the level of Assistant Professor or above, as well as contemplative scholars, teachers or researchers within these same disciplines who hold a faculty or comparable position will be considered “Senior Investigators”. Other professionals (e.g. educators, clinicians, therapists) who are independent practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions will also fall into this category.


For More Information

If you are not already on the Mind and Life email list, and you would like to receive automatic email notification regarding the application process for the MLSRI, please click here. Click here for more information about past Summer Research Institutes 2004 – 2011. For specific questions not answered on these pages, you may contact .