Open Access to Research on the Human Mind and Contemplative Practices

The Mind & Life Institute launches MindRxiv, a free preprint server sharing research in the contemplative sciences

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, August 29, 2017 — At a time when it seems like almost all information is available at the touch of a screen, much scientific research is still trapped behind the paywalls of academic journals. Fortunately, access to this research is now opening up, through “preprint” servers that make scholarly research publicly available for free.

MindRxiv is the latest such preprint server, providing an open archive of research on the human mind and contemplative practices. The server is managed by the Mind & Life Institute and hosted by the nonprofit Center for Open Science (COS). MindRxiv provides a platform for contemplative researchers within the sciences and humanities to upload working papers, preprints, published papers, data and code, all freely available to the public. This service is part of Mind & Life’s commitment to reach more people more effectively, to improve research practices and to accelerate dissemination of information for the benefit of society.

“This is an ideal way for contemplative researchers to share their work, both with peers and the public, who increasingly want to incorporate findings into their work and their lives,” said Wendy Hasenkamp, Science Director for Mind & Life. “All completed work related to mind and contemplative practice/philosophy is welcome, including scientific research, contextual studies, theoretical models and critical commentaries.”

Preprint servers offer a number of benefits over traditional academic journals. Researchers are able to post their findings as soon as the study is complete, speeding dissemination of results considerably. Preprints are freely available to anyone, which enhances the peer-review process, and leaves a clear historical record of changes. Increasing possibilities for peer feedback can also improve the quality of a manuscript, leading to more impactful publications. And increasingly, trade journals will accept work that has been shared previously as a preprint.

Scholars, scientists and applied research professionals in the contemplative sciences are encouraged to submit papers to MindRxiv. The goal is for MindRxiv to be a central, open repository for emerging work across the many disciplines in the broader field, integrating basic, clinical and social sciences, as well as the humanities. The server is also a resource to view the latest thinking in the field of contemplative sciences.

The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991, providing grant funding for research projects and think tanks, and hosting academic conferences and dialogues with leading thinkers and spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by advancing the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences, deepening understanding of the mind, and promoting evidence-based applications of meditative practices in real-world contexts.

Dalai Lama unable to attend Mind & Life Dialogue in Botswana

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, USA, 11 August 2017 — The Private Office of the 14th Dalai Lama informed the Mind & Life Institute today that due to health reasons, His Holiness is unable to travel to Botswana.

The Mind & Life Dialogue will continue as scheduled at Botho University in Gaborone, Botswana.

In a statement, the Dalai Lama said, “I was very much looking forward to coming to Africa again and visiting your country. I was especially interested in taking part in discussions of Ubuntu, which I feel reflects my fundamental belief that we are all interdependent and need to conduct ourselves with a sense of universal responsibility. Despite my absence, I am urging the conference organizers to continue with their plans, to hold valuable discussion and publish the results.”

Examining African values and healing practices in light of new scientific research on social connection and trauma, the Mind & Life 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.

The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991, providing grant funding for research projects and think tanks, and hosting academic conferences and Dialogues with the 14th Dalai Lama. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by advancing the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences, deepening understanding of the mind, and promoting evidence-based applications of meditative practices in real-world contexts.

Contact:

Donald J. Crotteau
Communications Director
dcrotteau@mindandlife.org
www.mindandlife.org

The Government of Botswana opens its doors to the Dalai Lama for a public conference with African leaders addressing Botho/Ubuntu, human rights and healing from trauma.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, USA, 12 July 2017 — His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will visit Botswana in August to participate as an honorary guest during a live public conference hosted by the Mind & Life Institute. The three-day conference takes place at Otse Hall on the campus of Botho University in Gaborone, 17 – 19 August. This historic visit by the Dalai Lama to Botswana is his only planned destination in Africa.

Conference participants include renowned international human rights advocate Graça Machel, and Ponatshego H. K. Kedikilwe who is celebrated among the foremost leaders of the liberation struggle and advancement of democracy in Southern Africa. Also included in the Dialogue are Grace Amponsah, Carsten de Dreu, Michael Onyebuchi Eze, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Uri Hasson, Mandaza Kandemwa, Lily Mafela, Donald Molosi, Rebecca Shansky, Theo Sowa and Thupten Jinpa. The event will feature special guests Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu Van Furth and musician Vusi Mahlasela.

The conference, “Botho/Ubuntu: A Dialogue on Spirituality, Science and Humanity with the Dalai Lama,” brings African humanitarian and spiritual leaders, scholars and healers into conversation with the Dalai Lama and international neuroscientists about the African worldview of Botho/Ubuntu.

In a statement, the Dalai Lama said, “My dear friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu has told me about the beautiful African notion of Botho/Ubuntu, which means “I am because you are.” This resonates powerfully with the ancient Indian idea of interdependence. In participating in the Mind & Life Dialogue, as well as meeting and talking with members of the public, I hope to gain a clearer understanding of this idea and explore ways in which it may help promote compassion and understanding in our world.”

Defining humanity through our connections with one another, Botho/Ubuntu is a view that is reflected also in the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Examining African values and healing practices in light of new scientific research on social connection and trauma, the Mind & Life 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.

In addition to the two-and-a-half-day Mind & Life Dialogue with scholars, spiritual leaders and scientists on the topic of Botho/Ubuntu, the Dalai Lama will also speak from his heart to the public during a separate address that culminates his three days in Botswana. The public address on Saturday 19 August will include a musical performance by special guest, Vusi Mahlasela.

The conference is open to the general public with discounted tickets available to students and Botswana youth (ages 15 – 35). Please note that all ticket holders will receive a security clearance prior to the conference, so tickets must be purchased by 31 July.

Topics to be presented during the conference include:

  • I am because you are: A scientific perspective on interdependence.
  • Botho as a basis for intergenerational dialogue.
  • The biology of care and conflict in groups.
  • The history and contemporary frame of Ubuntu/Botho.
  • Traditional healing practices and the restoration of unity in environment and society.
  • Oppression and violence against women: Cultural practices and community support.
  • Goodness: Exploring the meaning of Ubuntu.
  • Emotional trauma and how it affects the brain.
  • The human capacities and challenges of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Thupten Jinpa, Chair of the Mind & Life Institute’s Board of Directors and the principal English interpreter to the Dalai Lama since 1985, described the upcoming conference in Gaborone as “an historic opportunity for the people of Africa to benefit from the unique wisdom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as he encounters profound issues of modern African society through the lens of Botho/Ubuntu. Guided by presentations and conversations with an international panel of experts, the conference will bravely explore African issues, from its sacred pre-colonial history to the importance of gender equality, healthy communities and peaceful coexistence.”

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and is an internationally revered proponent of secular ethics, inter-religious harmony and human happiness. He is co-author with Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the best-selling “Book of Joy.” He is also the recipient of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his message of nonviolence, reconciliation and reverence for all living beings.

Mind & Life Dialogues with the Dalai Lama began in 1987 as intimate conversations with leading scientists and scholars to develop an understanding of the mind in relation to human behavior. These conversations have since grown to include large public and private events addressing critical issues of modern life at the intersection of scientific and contemplative understanding.

The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991, providing grant funding for research projects and think tanks, and hosting academic conferences and Dialogues with the 14th Dalai Lama. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by advancing the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences, deepening understanding of the mind, and promoting evidence-based applications of meditative practices in real-world contexts.

Contact:

Donald J. Crotteau
Director of Communications
Mind & Life Institute
botswanacommunications@mindandlife.org

“Qwantify” Research Study by Mind & Life and Northeastern University Seeks Thousands of Public Participants

 

App-based study asks: What do you want — and will it make you happy?

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, January 10, 2017 — The Mind & Life Institute, in partnership with Northeastern University, announced today the launch of Qwantify, a scientific research study seeking thousands of public participants to download and use a free app to answer the question, “What do you want, right now?”

Everyone desires something. You might want a new smartphone, a slice of pizza, or a hug from a friend. Desire, or “wanting,” is a basic human motivation that leads us to do all kinds of things, whether it’s as minor as grabbing a cup of coffee or as major as making a career change. Desire can lead to great satisfaction in life, or it can spiral out of control leading to situations like addiction. Dr. Wendy Hasenkamp, science director at the Mind & Life Institute, said, “Many of us have ideas about what we think will make us happy. But often, people’s beliefs about themselves don’t match up with their patterns of daily experience. And when it comes to the things we want, which motivates our behavior, this can have major impacts on well-being.” Hasenkamp is one of the investigators for the Qwantify project, along with Dr. Christy Wilson-Mendenhall, Dr. Paul Condon and Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett from Northeastern University.

The new mobile app, developed by London-based Psychological Technologies, is simple to use and is available for free to anyone who wants to participate in the study. There is no obligation and all data collected is completely anonymous. Study data is collected in real time when participants answer a few simple questions each day, such as “Do you want anything right now?” “What emotions are you feeling?” or “Are you with other people?” As data is gathered, participants can view their own personal statistics on charts and graphs, offering a way to learn about their own wants and desires. At the the same time, information is aggregated from all participants into massive data sets for analysis by the research team. It generally takes about two weeks to complete the study, but users can continue to use the app as long as they like.

“Everyone who uses the Qwantify app is helping the research team to better understand the dynamics of wanting; but the app also provides helpful insights to each person,” said Condon. “Over the course of the study, participants learn about the patterns of their own cravings and desires. Even without the data analysis, many people find that just tuning into what they are experiencing in the moment provides valuable personal insights, and increases awareness of wanting and its effects.”

Through the Qwantify app, researchers are able to study the relationships between wanting and happiness on a scale not previously available in the lab alone. “Wanting is deeply personal, and can vary a great deal from person to person. Science does not know enough about this variation. As researchers, we realize that laboratory studies take place in a very specific context. An equally important part of building a science of the mind is engaging in research that sheds light on the intricacies of what daily life is like for people across the country and the world,” said Wilson-Mendenhall. “There’s a huge opportunity for discovery here.” Thanks to this technology, the data can now include the real-world experiences and desires of thousands of people, making the outcomes more accurate and relevant across diverse populations.

Questions that the Qwantify study will explore include:

  • What kinds of desires do people experience most frequently?
  • How is wanting related to things like stress and loneliness, or self-esteem and happiness?
  • Do different people experience wanting differently?
  • How is wanting affected by your social situation?
  • What emotional states are people trying to achieve through wanting?

The Northeastern University researchers on the Qwantify project are based in the lab of psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, whose theory of emotion is based on a deeper understanding of the mind, body and brain. “You are the architect of your own experience,” said Barrett.  “You are not at the mercy of your emotions. The more you know about your wants and desires, the better equipped you are to design the kind of life you want to lead.” Barrett’s new book “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 7, 2017) explores her theory and latest research in the new science of emotion, mind, and brain, and shares intriguing practical applications for health, the legal system, our relationships with one another, and what it means to be human. Her research overturns the widely-held belief that emotions are hard-wired reactions within the brain, instead showing that emotion is constructed in the moment by core systems interacting across the whole brain, aided by a lifetime of learning.

The real-world, moment-to-moment nature of Qwantify’s app-based sampling will help scientists to understand this complex landscape when it comes to human desire — and its relationship to well-being. The study is now live, and the Qwantify app is freely available for iPhone or Android through the App Store or Google Play. More information can be found at http://qwantify.org.


About the Mind & Life Institute:

The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to establish the field of Contemplative Sciences. The institute provides a home for scholars and scientists from around the world who incorporate contemplative practices into their various fields of research. Mind & Life supports and unifies this community by funding research projects and think tanks, and by hosting academic conferences and dialogues with contemplative leaders like the Dalai Lama. Our mission is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating scientific research with contemplative practices such as mindfulness, compassion and other meditative traditions. For more information, please visit https://www.mindandlife.org.

 

About Dr. Feldman Barrett and Northeastern University’s Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory:

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital in Psychiatry and Radiology. She received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for her research on emotion in the brain. Her research focuses on the nature of emotion, and she has crafted the theory of constructed emotion as a means of understanding how brain and body create a mind. For a detailed list of current publications, please visit: http://www.affective-science.org

 

About Psychological Technologies:

PSYT creates real-time data-collection apps designed to capture academic research metrics using the experience sampling method (ESM) and ecological momentary assessment (EMA). For more information, please visit http://www.psyt.co.uk/

 

Download Press Release as a PDF »

Early Bird Registration ends Friday, July 1st for ISCS

Early Bird Registration ends this Friday, July 1st for the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS).

Join a diverse group of scientists, scholars, mindfulness practitioners and other contemplatives, artists, and others from an estimated 40 countries to learn about the latest research, practices and initiatives in the field of contemplative studies this November 10-13 in beautiful San Diego, California.

Register now and save »

Interested in a further discount?

Scholarships are available to current students in order to reduce the costs of ISCS registration to only $50. Mind and Life is committed to increasing participation by members of traditionally underrepresented groups, and we encourage those who self-identify as a member of a traditionally underrepresented group to apply.   

Apply now »

Volunteer for the 2016 ISCS.

We welcome volunteers at ISCS! If you are interested in receiving a substantial discount in exchange for one full day of service at the event, please contact us at: volunteer@mindandlife.org

Upcoming Conference on Compassionate Leadership, featuring Thupten Jinpa

AMHERST, Mass. – Thupten Jinpa, official translator for the Dalai Lama, will be the keynote speaker at the Conference for Compassionate Leadership on Saturday, April 16 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM in the Integrative Learning Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Jinpa was trained as a monk at the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. Jinpa also holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. He has been the principal English translator to the Dalai Lama since 1985 and has translated and edited numerous books by the Dalai Lama. He is the main author of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), an eight-week formal program developed at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. Jinpa’s most recent book is A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives.

The conference is presented by UMass Amherst student Tenzin Thargay, the Five College Buddhist studies program and UMatter at UMass.

In light of national tensions between the African-American community and police and anti-Muslim rhetoric and terrorist-inspired xenophobia in Europe, the conference will focus on teaching students to have compassion in leadership roles. Thargay says, “I truly believe that introducing compassion into the equation of clash can reduce conflict. Hopefully by planting the seeds of compassion leadership in the minds of the students, upon graduation and entrance into their fields of expertise, these seeds will blossom to spread more compassion.”

The conference will include a keynote address by Jinpa along with a panel discussion with faculty from the Five College consortium, including Sonya Atalay (UMass) Maria Heim (Amherst College), Constance Kassor (Smith College), Jill Lewis (Hampshire College), and Linda Tropp (UMass). In the afternoon, participants have the opportunity to have a special Tibetan lunch with Jinpa and attend his workshop that will include a presentation, guided meditation and a discussion, based on his CCT program.

Space for the lunch and workshop is limited to the first 45 people to register. RSVP to SACL@umass.edu by Wednesday, April 13.

Contact: Tenzin Thargay, (617) 735-5538, tthargay@umass.edu

Download PDF poster here

Mind and Life Relocation and Positions

 

 MIND AND LIFE RELOCATING TO CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

The Mind & Life Institute is pleased to announce the upcoming move of its headquarters to Charlottesville, Virginia. Effective in May 2016, the MLI office will relocate from Hadley, Massachusetts to Charlottesville. Susan Bauer-Wu, Mind and Life’s new president, sees “springtime as an ideal time to begin a new chapter in Mind and Life’s distinguished history in convening and catalyzing interdisciplinary and cross-institutional conversations and science that address profound issues that matter in the world.” With the relocation, Mind and Life will have greater proximity to Washington, DC and to a number of academic colleagues deeply engaged in this work. We are also excited to be adding new members to our team in Charlottesville.

MIND AND LIFE RECRUITING NEW STAFF FOR VIRGINIA OFFICE

Mind and Life is recruiting and accepting applications for several staff positions to join the new office in Charlottesville, Virginia, starting spring 2016. We are seeking talented individuals who are inspired by Mind and Life’s mission and embody the values of self-awareness and compassion that are foundational to our work.

Charlottesville, Virginia is a bucolic university town located in central Virginia, about two hours from Washington, DC. It’s a vibrant community rich in arts, culture, world class restaurants and vineyards, and surrounded by beautiful rolling mountains. Charlottesville was named the “most happy” city in the U.S. in 2014.

We have currently filled all of our open positions.
Check our careers webpage for updates as positions are added and filled.

A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit

Mind and Life Fellow Jud Brewer talks about the relationship between mindfulness and addiction in his recent TED Talk, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit.”

 

Mind and Life Partners with National Geographic on Two Upcoming Events

March 3, 2015 – Fellow and MLI board member, Richie Davidson at National Geographic headquarters

MLI Fellow and board member Richie Davidson will share his insights from Mind and Life XXX at the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington D.C. as part of National Geographic Live!, an event to be held March 3, 2016, at 7:30.

Click here to buy tickets to the lecture in Washington D.C.

March 9, 2015 – The World We Make: Well-being in 2030
Along with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison is gathering world leaders in science, healthcare, and media to explore how we can cultivate well-being in ourselves, our communities, and the world.

Click here to tune into the livestream of the event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, MLI Fellows, and special guests.

2015 Francisco J. Varela Grants for Contemplative Research

Neuroscientist, philosopher, and Mind and Life co-founder Francisco Varela (1946-2001) believed that contemplative training offered modern science novel methods for investigating the depth of human experience. In his vision, contemplative training such as meditation not only provided a new domain for scientific study, but also offered resources for advancing scientific models of consciousness, emotion, and cognitive processing.

Named in his honor, The Francisco J. Varela Grants for Contemplative Research are grants of up to $15,000 awarded annually to research scientists who have attended the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute. These grants fund scientific and scholarly examinations of contemplative techniques, with the ultimate goal that findings will provide greater insight into the mechanisms of contemplative practice and its application for reducing human suffering.

It is our pleasure to announce the 2015 Varela Grant Recipients: Read More