This will be a Scientific Pilot Study of the significance of where practitioners place their attention when they are doing breath awareness meditation. We will concentrate on two distinctive forms of Buddhist meditation, mindfulness practice as drawn from normative Pali Canon texts that emphasize placing the attention on the nostrils and zazen texts from the East Asian Buddhist canon that emphasize placing the attention on the tanden (CH. dantian) or “Cinnabar Field” in the lower abdomen. It is our hypothesis that these different attentional placements activate distinct somatic and neurological circuits in the body and mind and lead to measurably different outcomes in attention and other objective and subjective measures. The research will be done with students volunteers who will take Prof. Harold Roth’s MedLab™ course in the second semester of the 2012-13 academic year, UNIV 0540, “An Introduction to Contemplative Studies,” a course that features a distinctive “Integrated Contemplative Pedagogy™” in which students combine traditional third-person study of meditation texts and ideas with critical first-person study of their practices. Dr. Catherine Kerr will conduct the scientific research for the study with the assistance of Dr. Willoughby Britton.

Harold Roth, PhD

Brown University

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee, Planning Committee Member

Harold D. Roth is Professor of Religious Studies and the Director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University. Roth is a specialist in Classical Chinese Religious Thought, Classical Daoism, … MORE