As reported on http://www.mindandlife.org/research-initiatives/sri/sri11/ the 2011 Mind and Life Summer Research Institute will be devoted to the theme of ”New Frontiers in the Contemplative Sciences.” Drawing on research in neuroscience, basic psychological science, clinical psychology, and philosophy and contemplative studies, this year’s Mind and Life Summer Research Institute will focus on outstanding challenges for the development of contemplative neuroscience, contemplative clinical science, and contemplative studies in light of the progress made in these fields since the MLSRI’s inception. 2011 also marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Francisco Varela, the Mind and Life Institute’s founding scientist. We therefore will also give special attention to considerations about the future of contemplative science in light of his vision for collaboration between contemplative traditions and mind-brain science.
The specific goals of the Summer Institute are:
1. To cultivate strategic dialogue between neuroscientists, clinical scientists, other scientists of mind and behavior, humanities scholars, and contemplative scholars/practitioners to discuss and develop new research collaborations and protocols to explore the mind from an integrative perspective, including both first- and third-person approaches, and the effect of contemplative practices on mind, behavior, brain, and health.
2. To create a container for this dialogue that embodies a contemplative orientation, via meditation and yoga instruction, daily contemplative practice periods, a full day of silent contemplative retreat, and a closing contemplative musical performance.
3. To foster a new generation of nascent scientists (graduate students and post-docs) and contemplative scholars and practitioners interested in innovation and collaboration in research into contemplative practices.
4. To catalyze the field of contemplative sciences, focusing on the study of how contemplative practices engender effects on brain, mind and behavior, and how these effects are conditioned by culture, history, and other contextual variables.
5. To examine the emerging best practices, future opportunities, and challenges within the contemplative sciences.
Some of the questions that will be addressed include:
* How has the founding vision of Francisco Varela influenced the contemplative sciences, the evaluation of approaches to mental training within diverse contemplative traditions, and our understanding of the nature of consciousness over the past decade?
* What progress has been made in the development of what Varela termed neurophenomenology, truly integrating first- and third-person research perspectives?
* How do cultural and historical perspectives inform our understanding of current contemplative practices?
* What are the opportunities and challenges in expanding contemplative scientific studies to include contemplative practices in addition to those derived from Buddhist traditions?
* What are the relationships between contemplative practices, embodied experience, and ethics, and in what ways can the sciences, humanities, and contemplative practitioners most effectively collaborate in the study of these relationships?
* What progress has basic and clinical research made in understanding the nature, consequences, and development of mindfulness?
* What consensus is emerging in regard to best practices within the contemplative sciences, and how can these best practices be brought to bear on future research opportunities and challenges?