33 episodes

What is a mind? What are the mental patterns that shape our experience—how are those patterns created, maintained, and changed? How can contemplative practices like meditation help us work with our minds? And what are the potential benefits these practices for individuals and society? This inquiry can happen through many lenses. Conversations on this show integrate contemplative approaches with perspectives from psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology, religion, social science, art, activism, and lived experience. On Mind & Life, we investigate these complex questions with leading researchers, thinkers, and on-the-ground practitioners, moving us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. Hosted by Mind & Life Institute Science Director, Wendy Hasenkamp.

Mind & Life Mind & Life Institute

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

What is a mind? What are the mental patterns that shape our experience—how are those patterns created, maintained, and changed? How can contemplative practices like meditation help us work with our minds? And what are the potential benefits these practices for individuals and society? This inquiry can happen through many lenses. Conversations on this show integrate contemplative approaches with perspectives from psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology, religion, social science, art, activism, and lived experience. On Mind & Life, we investigate these complex questions with leading researchers, thinkers, and on-the-ground practitioners, moving us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. Hosted by Mind & Life Institute Science Director, Wendy Hasenkamp.

    Cliff Saron - Embracing Complexity

    Cliff Saron - Embracing Complexity

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with neuroscientist and contemplative researcher Cliff Saron. Cliff is a pioneer in studying the effects of meditation on attention and emotion, and has been deeply embedded in the field of contemplative science since the earliest days. This conversation covers many topics, including:


    his winding path into contemplative research;

    drilling down and pulling back;

    conducting research with Tibetan monks in India;

    how brain signals can predict behavior, and implications for free will;

    the importance of context in meditation research;

    effects of intensive meditation on attention, markers of cellular aging, and purpose in life;

    community-engaged participatory research;

    communicating the nuance and uncertainty inherent in science;

    Ubuntu, and living into our interdependence.


    Full show notes and resources

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Bobbi Patterson - Contemplation, Place, and Resilience

    Bobbi Patterson - Contemplation, Place, and Resilience

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with professor and Episcopal priest, Bobbi Patterson. Bobbi's work integrates Christian contemplation, Buddhist meditation, contemplative pedagogy, the role of place, and adaptive resilience. This conversation covers many topics, including:


    contemplative Christian traditions;

    the power of silence;

    dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism;

    a Christian contemplative view of mind;

    women in the church;

    how to listen to a place;

    bringing students into nature and urban settings;

    the role of the body in contemplation;

    understanding burnout;

    and adaptive and land-based resilience.


    Full show notes and resources

    • 58 min
    Cortland Dahl - Integrating Science and Buddhism

    Cortland Dahl - Integrating Science and Buddhism

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with researcher, translator, and Buddhist teacher, Cortland Dahl. Cort's work integrates science, psychology, meditation, and Tibetan Buddhism. This conversation covers many topics, including:


    how meditation helped with his social anxiety as a young person;

    benefits and challenges in the dialogue between Buddhism and science;

    customizing meditation practice in the Healthy Minds app;

    understanding the diversity of contemplative practice;

    analytical meditation;

    meditation as a treatment for mental health problems;

    transcending the conceptual mind, and loosening concepts of self;

    seeing the limits of science;

    looking at well-being through the lens of learning;

    the key role of social connection;

    and moving forward with intellectual humility (knowing that we don't know).


    Full show notes and resources


     

    • 57 min
    Zenju Earthlyn Manuel - Identity as Path

    Zenju Earthlyn Manuel - Identity as Path

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with author, Zen priest and Buddhist teacher, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. Zenju's work highlights how the various facets of our identity can become "fertilizer" for growth on the path of spiritual and personal development. This conversation covers many topics, including:


    growing up in the Christian church, and the questions it raised for her;

    her unusual path into Buddhism;

    how to work with your identity while moving beyond the self;

    the truth of interdependence and cause & effect;

    two truths (relative vs. absolute) in relation to identity;

    bringing together spirituality and social justice;

    the central importance of embodiment;

    integration with nature;

    how contemplative science should proceed;

    and the dance between delusion and enlightenment.


    Full show notes and resources


     

    • 36 min
    Willoughby Britton - When Meditation Causes Harm

    Willoughby Britton - When Meditation Causes Harm

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with clinical psychologist and meditation researcher, Willoughby Britton. Willoughby is a pioneer in contemplative research and one of the only people dedicated to understanding the possible negative outcomes from meditation (so called meditation-related adverse experiences). This conversation covers many topics, including:


    how she came to study the negative side of meditation;

    support and resources for those struggling with meditation-related difficulties (Cheetah House);

    scientific research on meditation-related adverse experiences;

    changes in perception and anxiety that can happen with meditation;

    how the same experience can be positive or negative depending on context;

    how the causes of adverse effects may be the same as for the benefits;

    the science of measuring harms in meditation research;

    what we know (and don't know) about these effects—who's at risk, how frequent they are, and how they show up for people;

    whether or not these difficulties are "part of the path" of transformation;

    grounding care in compassion;

    and aligning practices with the outcomes you want.


    Full resources and show notes

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Nicholas Van Dam - Nuancing the Narrative

    Nicholas Van Dam - Nuancing the Narrative

    In this episode, Wendy speaks with meditation researcher and clinical psychologist, Nicholas Van Dam. Nicholas is the Director of the Contemplative Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne—the first such center in Australia. His work explores how meditation and mindfulness can support well-being, and help with conditions like anxiety and depression. This conversation covers many topics, including:


    how an existential crisis led him to meditation practice;

    bringing loving critique to contemplative science;

    the complicated realities of mindfulness, how we measure it, and its impact on the brain;

    looking at effects beyond just the individual who is meditating;

    insights from a year of daily practice;

    balancing personal interest vs. research objectivity;

    the freedom that comes from letting go;

    how skills learned on the cushion transfer to daily life;

    deconstructing the self;

    mindfulness and meditation for anxiety and depression;

    getting out of your head and into your body;

    connecting with Indigenous and other non-Buddhist contemplative traditions;

    and advancing evidence-based research on meditation.


    Full show notes and resources

    • 1 hr 3 min

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