Contemplative Practice in the World Part II

Contemplative Practice in the World Part II


As we have seen, scientists are actively studying contemplative practices to understand how they can affect the brain and body. However, these practices are also being used in diverse applied contexts to increase well-being, most commonly in health care and educational settings. Sona Dimidjian has studied both traditional and contemplative based therapies for promoting wellness and alleviating problems such as depression throughout the United States and in India. Her current work focuses on the use of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to help women prevent depression during the transition to parenthood. Dimidjian will discuss the efficacy of contemplative interventions in clinical contexts, theories and data about how such interventions work, and recent efforts to extend their reach to new settings and populations. Outside the clinic, contemplative exercise as mental training is being increasingly appreciated and applied in classrooms from kindergarten through universities and professional schools. Arthur Zajonc will discuss efforts at developing a “contemplative pedagogy,” as a means of cultivating attention, establishing emotional balance, and supporting deeper learning, creativity, as well as social and emotional learning in students. Zajonc will also describe Mind and Life’s new initiative on education and “secular ethics,” which was initiated in response to His Holiness’s strong desire to ground ethics in our shared humanity and not in religion or ideology. Finally, Geshe Ngawang Samten will reflect on the value of incorporating inner values, ethics of compassion and the understanding of interdependence in educational settings in India. 

  • Dialogue 26
    27 sessions
  • January 21, 2013
    Drepung Monastery, Mundgod, India
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Arthur Zajonc

Arthur Zajonc, PhD, was professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012, when he became President of the Mind & Life Institute. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities and the contemplative traditions. He has also written extensively on Goethe’s science work. He is author of the book: Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of Science. In 1997, he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He organized the 2002 dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life,” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” Mind and Life dialogue in 2003, the proceedings of which were published under the title The Dalai Lama at MIT. While directing the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Arthur fostered the use of contemplative practice in college and university classrooms, and he continues to speak around the world on the importance of contemplative pedagogy. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc has most recently authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love. He has also been General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.