An Exploration of Nature, Mindfulness and Well-Being

Part 2 in a weeklong series of blog posts written by undergraduate students from the 2017 spring-semester class, “Mindfulness & Compassion: Living Fully Personally and Professionally” at the University of Virginia.


Introduction

As a second year student at the University of Virginia, I started to notice myself living in a state of frenzy. I was always moving from class, to studying, to working out, to work, to extracurricular involvements — and feeling entirely frenzied as I went through my day. This feeling of frenzy led me to take a course in Mindfulness and Compassion this semester. Read More

Mindfulness in Periods of Stress

Part 1 in a weeklong series of blog posts written by undergraduate students from the 2017 spring-semester class, “Mindfulness & Compassion: Living Fully Personally and Professionally” at the University of Virginia.


Transitioning to new environments is always difficult, especially for young adults entering adulthood. Many students find the transition from middle school to high school and high school to college to be an especially challenging time, as many key aspects of their lives start to shift.

As a result, many students find themselves feeling stressed or anxious, not knowing how to deal with these emotions in healthy ways.The phrase “take a deep breath” is sometimes useful when dealing with an immediate issue, but most students find themselves constantly stressed or anxious. This is why increasing awareness of mindfulness practice among young adults can provide many students with the relief they need from the pressures they face in their worlds. It is important to communicate to them that mindfulness practice does not have to be a difficult, time-consuming activity, nor is it “weird” to take time for themselves to care for their mental health. Read More

Meditating Together: Tania Singer on the Contemplative Dyad

 

As part of the work that she’s leading on the ReSource Project—a large-scale multi-methodological secular mental training program—Tania Singer is studying novel forms of intersubjective mental training practices that are performed with a partner. These contemplative dyad practices are aimed at boosting social closeness and perceived interconnectedness.

In this video, Singer, who is the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, shares some the differential effects of individual mindfulness-based practices as compared to contemplative dyad practices on outcomes such as attention, compassion, Theory of Mind, altruism, as well as social stress and autonomic body regulation. Read More

The PhenoTank: A Mind & Life Think Tank on the Microphenomenology of Contemplative Experience

What happens when an experience is described?  Does the very effort to find words deepen practice, sharpen awareness, clarify an experience? Imagining a lens through which to deepen access to contemplative experience, these were among the questions that drove the conversation at Mind & Life’s first funded Think Tank, the “PhenoTank,” held at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris this past January 23rd and 24th, 2017. Read More

An in-depth look at a Mind & Life Think Tank on Abrahamic traditions.

To date, the traditions and techniques that have been most substantively researched in the field of contemplative science have largely derived from Buddhism and Buddhist-inspired movements. While there have been tremendous advances and developments due to this collaboration—indeed there would be no field without it—a natural consequence of this specific alliance is that insights from other traditions have not yet been fully investigated and integrated into the field. This Mind & Life Think Tank was therefore dedicated to exploring such potential contributions of the contemplative streams found within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (collectively called the “Abrahamic” traditions) toward the dual aims of alleviating suffering and promoting human flourishing in accord with the Mind & Life Institute’s primary mission. Read More

How personal experience as a racial minority led to a career studying compassion meditation in diverse populations.

An Interview with Mind & Life Fellow, Helen Weng, PhD.

Helen Y. Weng, PhD is a Mind & Life Fellow and a postdoctoral scholar at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Helen is interested in how contemplative practices can improve communication within and between individuals, and how this in turn improves psychological and physical health. Her postdoctoral work is focused on developing a novel fMRI task to measure mindful breath awareness, using community-engaged approaches to adapt fMRI study procedures to underrepresented populations from diverse contemplative communities, and understanding how mindfulness-based interventions impact body awareness and psychophysiological variables. Read More

An interview with Eric Garland, Ph.D.

Mind & Life Fellow, Eric L. Garland, Ph.D., LCSW, is a clinical researcher and practicing, licensed psychotherapist.
Mind & Life Fellow, Eric L. Garland, Ph.D., LCSW, is a clinical researcher and practicing, licensed psychotherapist.

As a Mind & Life Fellow who received the Francisco J. Varela Research Grant in 2007 and the Mind & Life 1440 grant in 2013, Dr. Eric Garland has gone on to become the developer of an innovative, multimodal mindfulness-based intervention founded on insights derived from cognitive, affective and neurobiological science, called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE). He has received more than $20 million in research grants from a variety of prestigious entities including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to conduct translational research on biopsychosocial mechanisms implicated in stress and health, including randomized controlled trials of MORE as a treatment for prescription opioid misuse and chronic pain conditions. Read More

ISCS 2016 marks coming of age for Mind & Life

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For those who recently attended Mind & Life’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS)  in San Diego, the experience provided an unusually intimate and affirming sense of connection and possibility — amid 1200 attendees. Read More