Fellow Spotlight: Jennifer Mascaro

Jennifer Mascaro, Assistant Professor at Emory University

In this month’s Fellow Spotlight we are pleased to share the work of Jennifer Mascaro, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University. She will be presenting her work at the 2020 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute.

Jennifer’s research interests center on human social cognition and the biology of interconnection, as well as the variation of these elements across individuals and over time. A biological anthropologist by training, Jennifer weaves together multiple research methodologies, including neuroimaging (both anatomical and functional MRI), experience sampling, and hormonal and genetic assays to explore how contemplative practices affect prosocial emotions and behaviors, and how these in turn impact health. Ever interdisciplinary, Jennifer’s research also interfaces with the fields of medicine, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, religion, and social, clinical, and cognitive psychology in order to examine interventions that enhance social connectivity, and in so doing, impact well-being.

Read More

Upcoming Mind & Life Conversations to Explore Role of Compassion and Conscious Evolution in Healing Growing Divides

How can contemplative wisdom and science better inform our knowledge of human nature and what it takes to inspire caring and action for our collective future? On October 30th and November 1st, the Dalai Lama will engage prominent thought leaders—evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson and clinical psychologist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela—in two intimate conversations designed to inspire insight, provoke debate, and offer hope for healing deep divides in today’s world.

Sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, these “Conversations on Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation“ will be livestreamed, for free, from Dharamasala, India. The two hour-long events are adapted from Mind & Life’s Dialogues with the Dalai Lama, which have taken place regularly since 1987.

Read More

Special Issue on Mindfulness

Mind & Life is excited to share the special issue on Mindfulness, published in Current Opinion in Psychology earlier this month. This compilation showcases the work of many in the Mind & Life academic community. The authors have received grants, served on committees, attended events, presented at conferences, participated as Fellows, and been active with the Mind & Life Institute and our sister organization Mind & Life Europe in myriad ways. In their introduction to the issue, editors Amit Bernstein, Dave Vago, and Thorsten Barnhofer name the Mind & Life Institute’s grants and activities as “a catalyst for the emergence and ongoing growth of a network of contemplative scholars, scientists, monastics, and practitioners.” We are deeply grateful to these authors and our entire community for joining us in this work.

Read More

Fellow Spotlight: David Creswell

David Creswell, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University

Mind & Life is excited to announce our first-ever Mind & Life Fellow Spotlight! The Fellow Spotlight is a new monthly segment where we will highlight the contributions of Mind & Life Fellows to our shared mission, featuring a different Fellow each month. 

In this month’s spotlight we are pleased to share the work of David Creswell, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. David’s work focuses on understanding what makes people resilient under stress, and more recently has examined the role of acceptance and equanimity in mindfulness training for stress reduction and health. David received the American Psychological Association and the American Psychosomatic Society Early Career Awards, and was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. His work is regularly profiled in the media, including coverage in the NY Times, LA Times, NBC News, and the Today Show. 

Read More

Seeding Peace in the Heart of Conflict: A Think Tank Project in Colombia

Siblings Juan and Juliana Santoyo received funding from Mind & Life in 2017 to hold a Think Tank to design and plan the implementation of a contemplative practice-based program for ex-combatants in Colombia’s peacebuilding process (members of the program’s pilot pictured above). They believe that nourishing the ability to heal and transform individually and with community is fundamental for the intentional transformation of their country and the world. For more information about their project see https://www.contemplativecolombia.com/.

Read More

Clifford Saron: Embracing the Mystery

Mind & Life would not exist without the contributions of many dedicated individuals who graciously contribute their time and expertise in service of its mission. Last Fall, at the 2018 International Symposium for Contemplative Research, Mind & Life presented Clifford Saron, Ph.D. with its inaugural Service Award. Said Mind & Life President Susan Bauer Wu, “From 1990 to this very moment, Cliff has worked in continuous service to Mind & Life. His heart, mind, wisdom, and brilliance are woven throughout the fabric of our work.” Below is a tribute to Dr. Saron and his nearly three decades of service to Mind & Life. Read More

Contemplative Research and the Case for Transcultural Experiences and Perspectives

Attending Mind and Life’s first-ever International Research Institute (IRI) in Kyoto, Japan, was a career highpoint. The event bridged my past and present, my current studies in the U.S. with my roots in Japan, and my interest in exploring the connection between mind and body.

Quite simply, I felt at home.

As a child, I went on field trips to Buddhist temples, but never really appreciated them. That all changed years later within the awe-inspiring setting of Myōshin-ji, a 14th century Zen temple complex typically reserved for monks, yet made available to IRI participants to explore the theme of “Contemplative Practice in Context: Culture, History, and Science.”

Read More

Meditation for Mental Health: How Does Mindfulness Compare to Other Treatments?

Claims abound about the benefits of mindfulness in promoting human health and well-being, making it hard for people to distinguish between hype and hard science. Over the last two decades, hundreds of trials have explored the impact of meditation and mindfulness on mental health in individual studies, but researchers rarely undertake the challenge of investigating what these findings reveal across the field as a whole.

One exception is Simon Goldberg. An assistant professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin and affiliate faculty member at the Center for Healthy Minds, Goldberg started meditating in college and later pursued a doctorate to better understand the psychotherapeutic benefits of mindfulness. His most recent research sought to identify the larger lessons hidden within mountains of data.

Read More

Mind & Life Kyoto Conference Bridges East and West; Science and Contemplative Wisdom

What role do context and history play in influencing meditation practice and outcomes? How can the contemplative practices of one culture be effectively studied and practiced by another? More than 75 scientists, scholars, contemplatives, and artists from 11 countries recently convened in Kyoto, Japan to explore these and related questions at Mind & Life’s inaugural
International Research Institute (IRI).

Held within the serene setting of Myōshin-ji, a 14th century Zen temple complex, the five-day event was modeled on Mind & Life’s signature Summer Research Institute (SRI), now in its 15th year. The conference theme, “Contemplative Practice in Context: Culture, History, and Science,” framed presentations and discussion on topics ranging from the centrality of narrative to human experience to the historic influence of Zen on the arts in Japan. Read More

With Justice and Contemplation for All

With a focus on the latest in contemplative research from some of the field’s most noted scholars—a goal that’s informed the gathering since its 2012 inception—this year’s International Symposium for Contemplative Research (ISCR) is also moving beyond its roots and broadening its voice. 

That means lively discussions of contemplative practice in the digital age. Dialogue on mindfulness training in high-pressure environments—the military, healthcare, in emergency response—where practitioners strain against the clock. Research on mindfulness’s impact on children in a classroom, its ability to assuage pain, and be a possible salve for those struggling with addiction. And deep thinking about how, and why, social justice, historical inequities and determined inclusion must inform its progress forward.

Read More