Over three decades, Mind & Life convenings have brought diverse perspectives to bear in informing and advancing the nascent field of contemplative science and its application to real-world challenges. The collective knowledge of presenters and rich themes explored at Mind & Life events remain relevant today, while offering a retrospective look at how the field has grown and evolved. Below, we are pleased to share a rich repository of our programs and events, searchable by date and topic.
Inspiring Minds – Yoga as a Tool for Social Change
Our November conversation “Yoga as a Tool for Social Change” features Richard Freeman and Gail Parker, along with pianist/composer Peter Kater. We’ll explore how embodied yoga practices can lead to greater self-awareness and agency in contributing to a better world.
2020 Contemplative Research Conference
The Mind & Life 2020 Contemplative Research Conference is online November 5-8, 2020. The virtual conference is an international convening for rigorous interdisciplinary investigation of contemplative practices and programs in diverse contexts. The conference will feature plenary sessions and concurrent symposia on a diverse range of topics and best practices within contemplative research, including basic research, clinical studies, cultural and philosophical analyses, and education.
Inspiring Minds – Mindfulness and Racial Healing
Join Mind & Life for our monthly online series that brings together thought leaders and contemplatives to engage with one another and the audience in exploring the role of the mind in human flourishing. At a time of profound global crises, we’ll be looking at how science and contemplative wisdom can inform efforts to build a more just, compassionate, and inclusive world.
2020 Mind & Life Conversation
June 19, 2020, 10:30pm EDT The Mind & Life Institute was honored to host this special livestream event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The program explored insights for individual and collective healing, integrating contemplation, science, and action, helping us to consider how crisis can be an opportunity to shift human consciousness and embrace our […]
2020 Summer Research Institute
Cultivating Prosocial Development Across the Lifespan: Context Relationships, and Contemplative Practices
The world, in the face of pressing global ecological, economic and political challenges, stands in need of social systems renewal. We need generations of individuals, both young and old, who are skilled in the virtuous habits of the head, the heart and the hand, and who therefore are positioned to address the global challenges of our times. How can prosocial qualities be cultivated in individuals, families, schools and communities such that we support generations of people in becoming “forces for good” in the world today?
2019 Mind & Life Conversations
Join the Mind & Life Institute online for two special free Livestream events from Dharamsala, India. On October 30th and November 1st, we will host two unique conversations between Pumla Goboda-Madikizela, David Sloan Wilson, and the Dalai Lama. Livestream video replays are available.
2019 Summer Research Institute
Exploring Mental Habits: Contemplative Practices and Interventions for Individual and Social Flourishing
Political strife, immigration, cultural and racial conflict, environmental concerns, depression, and distraction—these issues and many more influence our daily lives as we struggle to find personal well-being and social harmony. How does the latest research on mental habits, contemplation, and compassion inform opportunities to create change for ourselves and others?
2018 International Symposium for Contemplative Research
The Mind & Life International Symposium for Contemplative Research (ISCR) is the flagship conference for interdisciplinary investigations of the mind, meditation, and other contemplative practices. We are teachers, researchers, scientists and scholars. We are activists, politicians and business leaders. We are parents, students, social workers and first responders. We are instructors, writers, filmmakers and philosophers. We are all change-makers.
2018 International Research Institute
As the “cultural heart of Japan,” Kyoto is home to longstanding traditions of contemplative practice, philosophy, and scientific research. Inspired by this setting, and its location at the Zen temple complex Myōshin-ji, the theme for this Mind & Life International Research Institute is Contemplative Practice in Context: Culture, History, and Science. This five-day immersive program brings together leading scholars in the sciences and humanities, contemplatives, and artists to examine contemplative epistemologies within a variety of contexts.
2018 Summer Research Institute
The 2018 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute extends the arc from the 2016 and 2017 programs that addressed themes of context, social connectivity, and intersubjectivity by engaging critical topics relevant to cultural difference and human diversity. The weeklong immersive program will examine social and psychological patterns, both implicit and explicit, to discuss how difference is constructed at personal, interpersonal, and socio-structural levels. Scientific, humanistic, and first-person contemplative perspectives will give attention to processes of othering and how we can overcome conflict by embracing difference.
2018 Mind & Life Dialogue XXXIII
The “Reimagining Human Flourishing” Dialogue has a central focus on education, especially in light of His Holiness’ longstanding prioritization of secular ethics education initiatives. It includes a mixture of both scientific and practice-oriented discussions to catalyze the synthetic and integrative opportunity provided by the meeting, taking up crucial questions on how to gain better scientific understanding of key constructs like “attention,” “meta-awareness,” and “emotion regulation,” as well as the practical issue of how to expand the Social Emotional Learning framework to incorporate the teaching of compassion and secular ethics more fully.
2017 Mind & Life Dialogue XXXII
The Botswana Dialogue brings African humanitarian and spiritual leaders, scholars and healers into conversation with international neuroscientists about the African worldview of Botho/Ubuntu, during five sessions followed by a concert performance by Vusi Mahlasela. Defining humanity through our connections with one another, Botho/Ubuntu is expressed as: “I am because you are.” Examining African values and healing practices in light of new scientific research on social connection and trauma, the Dialogue in Botswana explores the potential of Botho/Ubuntu as a framework for healing the legacy and trauma of wars and colonialism, and advancing social justice and women’s equality.
2017 Summer Research Institute
The 2017 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute gives attention to scientific, humanistic and first-person contemplative perspectives on intersubjectivity and social connectivity. Plenary presentations, workshops and small group discussions explore interrelational human dynamics, including how we relate to ourselves and others, and to community and strangers. Faculty from across a multitude of disciplines present research findings on the meditative cultivation of pro-social emotions, intergroup dynamics, social and embodied cognition, cognitive ecology, implicit bias and social justice.
2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies
The Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS) seeks to encourage and help shape a cohesive interdisciplinary field of contemplative studies in which basic and applied science, scholarship, education, the arts, and contemplative traditions collaboratively develop an integrated way of knowing. In 2016 we gathered the most innovative thought leaders and present their ground breaking research in neuroscience, psychology, clinical science, the humanities, philosophy, and education – all with the goal of advancing our understanding of the mind, reducing human suffering, and enhancing our well-being.
2016 Mind & Life Dialogue XXXI
While the notion of power can be seen as a neutral concept, neither harmful nor beneficial by definition, the western historical perspective links it to concepts such as domination, instrumentalization, or sovereignty. This idea of power as power over is apparent in political, societal and interpersonal spheres, as indicated by problems such as the wealth […]
2016 Summer Research Institute
The 2016 Mind and Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI) will be devoted to the theme of context, and its relevance for basic mental processes as well as effects of contemplative practices. Findings from the cognitive and social sciences, humanities, and philosophy increasingly suggest that context shapes mind in fundamental ways. With regard to contemplative studies, practices that were once embedded within traditional religious cultures are now being widely disseminated across a variety of globalized, largely secular settings. Contextual factors impact the very course and outcome of these practices, and if not carefully considered, even well-intended efforts can lead to unsatisfactory or incomplete results.
2015 Mind & Life Dialogue XXX
Western science has advanced our understanding of many foundational issues in cognition, and has expanded psychological and philosophical explorations of the mind. Among the central topics addressed in this scientific endeavor are perception, concept acquisition, the nature of conceptual thought, and the role of language in cognition, and the origins and content of our sense […]
2015 Summer Research Institute
The 2015 Mind and Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI) examines the theme of Fear and Trust in Self and Society. Presentations and discussions draw on research in both the sciences and the humanities, including neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, religion, and contemplative studies. We explore the biological and experiential aspects of fear, its influence on our cognition […]
Topics: Self & Other
2014 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies
The 2014 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS) drew a diverse, talented and enthusiastic group of attendees, and brought together distinct, though overlapping, fields of research and scholarship across the sciences, humanities, arts and other domains. ISCS 2014 focused on advancing our understanding of the human mind, and how training through contemplative practices can lead […]
2014 Mind & Life Dialogue XXIX
The nature of the human mind remains one of the most profound unresolved questions we face as a species. While the mind’s ultimate nature may forever elude us, we can nonetheless carefully study the mind’s characteristics, capabilities, and associated phenomena. We have mapped the human genome, the night sky and the fundamental particles of the […]
2014 Mind & Life Dialogue XXVIII
There has always been a deep commitment at Mind & Life toward understanding what an ethical life can and should mean in today’s world. By becoming more aware of our deep interdependence and the need for mutual care, a proper foundation for ethics is possible – one that allows us to better address the global […]
2013 Mind & Life Dialogue XXVII
Desire is a natural part of life that provides the motivating force for our achievements. Our highest aspirations are animated by desire. Yet, when desire becomes obsession or craving, we cross over into the territory of suffering. What before was an aid to accomplishment can devolve into a source of personal anguish and social violence. […]
2013 Mind & Life Dialogue XXVI
This landmark six-day event, convened at the specific request of the Dalai Lama, brought together 20 of the world’s foremost scientists and philosophers with senior Tibetan scholars. Several thousand monks and nuns from numerous Tibetan monastic centers of learning were in attendance. In addition to critically engaging in important questions of mutual interest and challenge […]
2012 Mind & Life Dialogue XXV
For some years now, there has been a great deal of interest in the ways that contemplative practices with roots in spiritual traditions may also provide a range of emotional and physical benefits to practitioners. We now have a substantial body of experimental and clinical work focused both on outcomes and on the neural, cognitive, […]
2012 Mind & Life Dialogue XXIV
In this private dialogue, six young scientists were chosen to represent the Francisco J. Varela Grant program, a catalyst for seeding the field with young scientists investigating contemplative practice. These researchers, representing a new generation of scientists, presented the Dalai Lama with their recent research outcomes. LOCATION: Rochester, Minnesota Participants
2011 Mind & Life Dialogue XXIII
The slow meltdown of Earth’s capacity to sustain much of life, as we know it, poses an urgent challenge for both spiritual traditions and science. These two ways of knowing have developed distinctive responses, which are potentially synergistic. The goal of the meeting is to provide an opportunity to articulate an engaged environmental ethics. This […]
2010 Mind & Life Dialogue XXII
Contemplative Science: The Scientific Study of Contemplative Practice on Human Biology and Behaviour
The impetus for this Mind & Life meeting stems from the Dalai Lama’s wish to have a Mind & Life meeting in Asia, particularly India. To this end, the conference brings together scientists, philosophers, and contemplative scholars and practitioners to discuss the benefits of contemplative science. In doing so, it provides a context for scientists […]
2010 Mind & Life Dialogue XXI
As part of the grand opening of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, the Dalai Lama, along with contemplatives and contemplative scholars, engaged in a dialogue with scientists envisioned in the style of a working lab meeting. In a session to update His Holiness on the latest scientific discoveries, presenters outlined recent research findings as […]
Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science
2010 Mind & Life Dialogue XX
Altruism and Compassion in Economic Systems: A Dialogue Between Economics, Neuroscience, and Contemplative Sciences
Classic economic theory is based on the assumption that humans are self-interested and rational actors, and casts doubt on the very existence of altruism. New research in both economics and neuroscience reveals a much richer and more complex picture of humanity, where altruism and compassion are not only part of the equation but also can […]
2009 Mind & Life Dialogue XIX
Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century: Educators, Scientists and Contemplatives Dialogue on Cultivating a Healthy Mind, Brain and Heart
How can our educational system evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st century? How will we educate people to be compassionate, competent, ethical, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex and interconnected world? The urgent challenges of a globalized and interdependent world demand a new vision of world citizenship that is not confined to […]
2009 Mind & Life Dialogue XVIII
The discussions during this Dialogue will primarily focus on the subjective phenomenology, information-processing operations, and neural mechanisms of attention, memory, and conscious awareness from both scientific and Buddhist perspectives. Special attention will be focused on the distinctive characteristics and interactions of attention, memory, and metacognition as seen from diverse viewpoints, including the possibility of multiple dimensions […]
2009 Mind & Life Dialogue XVII
Private dialogue LOCATION: Ann Arbor, Michigan Participants
2008 Mind & Life Dialogue XVI
This Dialogue reviews the current science and clinical applications of meditation, and identifies new lines of research on clinical applications of contemplative practices such as meditation within medicine. New scientific studies are beginning to show that meditation may have specific beneficial effects for helping patients cope with certain diseases and the stress associated with them, […]
2007 Mind & Life Dialogue XV
In contemporary behavioral science, the general term “depression” covers a wide range of some of the most striking and prevalent forms of mental suffering in the world today. Within the broad spectrum of depression, some forms are relatively well understood. This Dialogue builds on that understanding to further examine the nature of depression and explore […]
2007 Mind & Life Dialogue XIV
In addition to being a scientific autobiography, the Dalai Lama’s book The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality highlights those issues he feels are most important in the “convergence of science and spirituality.” In his book, the Dalai Lama includes ethical, philosophical, and metaphysical reflections prompted by science. These issues and questions […]
Topics: Contemplative Wisdom
2005 Mind & Life Dialogue XIII
Though still in the early stages, there have been efforts to scientifically study the clinical application of meditative practices as well as the physiological effects of meditation in both novice and advanced practitioners. This Dialogue is a further opportunity for some of the scientists who have contributed most to this field to present their approaches […]
2004 Mind & Life Dialogue XII
Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience. The brain is the organ that is designed to change in response to experience. Neuroscience and psychological research over the past decade on this topic have burgeoned and are leading to new insights about the many ways […]
Topics: Brain & Cognitive Science
2003 Mind & Life Dialogue XI
From its inception Buddhism has probed the nature of mind, using the mind itself as its instrument of investigation, especially with the aid of refined meditation methods. For the past millennium, Tibetan Buddhists have pursued this investigation in monastic universities with rigor and exacting scholarship. Until now, science has been skeptical of this course of […]
2002 Mind & Life Dialogue X
At the outset of his famous 1943 lecture What Is Life?, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger posed the question, “Can that which takes place inside a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?” In this Dialogue, we explore the perennial question concerning the nature of life and its relationship to matter. Schrödinger’s question is asked […]
2001 Mind & Life Dialogue IX
This Dialogue presents an overview of modern methods for investigating human brain function, and discussions of the application of these methods to understand the changes produced by meditation practice. LOCATION: Madison, Wisconsin Participants
2000 Mind & Life Dialogue VIII
This Dialogue explores a perennial human predicament: the nature and destructive potential of “negative” emotions; for example, when jealousy turns into murderous rage. The Buddhist tradition has long pointed out that recognizing and transforming negative emotions lies at the heart of spiritual practice. From the perspective of science, these same emotional states pose a perplexing […]
1998 Mind & Life Dialogue VII
The purpose of this Dialogue is to compare the epistemologies of two major intellectual traditions: Western science culminating in modern quantum physics, and Eastern contemplative sciences as represented by Tibetan Buddhism. What are the roles of observer and consciousness? Are there fundamental limits to what can be said about the world? What are the foundations […]
1997 Mind & Life Dialogue VI
This Dialogue explores contemporary understandings of the natural world that have arisen through groundbreaking advances in physics and astrophysics made during the 20th century. These advances have exerted a profound influence on our conception of the world, changing it fundamentally from the views that reigned until the end of the 19th century. For example, through […]
Topics: Contemplative Wisdom
1995 Mind & Life Dialogue V
This Dialogue focuses on the study of altruism and compassion in Western science. It addresses these topics from a highly multidisciplinary perspective since altruism and compassion are clearly significant for both the social and life sciences. A historical perspective on the role of compassion in science, and the bias in the study of negative rather […]
Topics: Compassion & Empathy
1992 Mind & Life Dialogue IV
The topic of this Dialogue focuses on the delicate areas of sleeping, dreaming, and dying. The meeting brings to discussion those “marginal states” in which our habitual, reified sense of personal identity is challenged, and in which concomitantly a host of phenomena of great significance for human existence become intensified or are made manifest. Current […]
1990 Mind & Life Dialogue III
The topic of this Dialogue is the role of emotional states in physical health. Over the past 2,500 years, Buddhists have explored this topic through contemplative practices and logical analysis. Their research has been conducted within the context of spiritual disciplines aimed at the release from physical and mental suffering. The principal means for pursuing […]
1989 Mind & Life Dialogue II
Buddhism and neuroscience have parallel but quite distinct traditions for examining consciousness and its relation to the body. These traditions go back at least 2,500 years to the Buddha and Hippocrates. While both disciplines place great emphasis on experience and reason, their methods of research and verification are radically different. While neuroscience examines mind-brain processes […]
1987 Mind & Life Dialogue I
This groundbreaking meeting, which began the Dialogue series, was inspired by a shared interest in opening a conversation between Buddhist thought and cognitive science to mutually inform and enrich these two distinct modes of exploring existence. LOCATION: Dharamsala, India Participants