MLSRI 2015: Week in Review

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Since 2004, one of the cornerstones of Mind and Life’s programming has been the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI), which was designed to support the growing field of contemplative studies. This unique event is a week-long conference that incorporates academic presentations, informal breakout groups, poster sessions, and periods of meditation, yoga, and tai chi each day, as well as a one-day silent retreat. The hybrid academic/retreat format offers opportunities for deep dialogue across disciplines, as well as inquiry through meditative practices, underscoring the challenges of honoring and learning from first-person experience. One of the broad goals of contemplative studies is to create an integrated way of knowing by combining standard third-person methodologies from the sciences and humanities with first-person modes of introspection that have been developed by diverse contemplative and philosophical traditions. The MLSRI has been instrumental in supporting this community through shared knowledge, fostering relationships among participants, and also through our Varela Awards program, which funds contemplative research projects that often emerge from collaborations formed at the event.

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MLSRI 2015: Fear and Trust in Self and Society

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Pages from 2015 SRI Brochure 5.21.15We are in the midst 12th Annual Mind and Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI), which began on Saturday, June 13. A week-long conference, it incorporates academic presentations, informal breakout groups, poster sessions, and periods of meditation, yoga, and tai chi each day, as well as a one-day silent retreat. This unique format offers opportunities for deep dialogue across disciplines, as well as inquiry through meditative practices, underscoring the challenges of honoring and learning from first-person experience.

MLSRI 2015 will be devoted to the theme of Fear and Trust in Self and Society. Presentations and discussions will draw on research in both the sciences and the humanities, including neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, religion, and contemplative studies. We plan to explore the biological and experiential aspects of fear, its influence on our cognition and emotion, and its expression in both healthy states and clinical disorders. Critically, we’ll also be examining the role of trust and interpersonal connection as a counterpoint to fear, so we’re very interested in conversations about the protective functions of secure attachment and compassion. Finally, we will ask how contemplative practices might be used to help us work with fear and cultivate social bonds.

For those not attending this year, stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages as we cover the event. Interested in applying for next year? The application period will occur in early 2016, and be announced later this year—in the meantime, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected to us through our social media accounts to receive the latest updates.