Michel Bitbol, Ph.D.

Michel Bitbol is presently Directeur de Recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, in Paris, France. He is based at the Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Appliquee (CREA) in Paris. He was educated at several universities in Paris, where he received successively his M.D. in 1980, his Ph.D. in Physics in 1985, and his “Habilitation” in Philosophy in 1997.

He worked as a research scientist from 1978 to 1990, specializing in biophysics. From 1990 onwards, he turned to the philosophy of physics. He edited texts of general philosophy and of quantum mechanics by Erwin Schrödinger, and published a book entitled  Schrödinger’s Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (Kluwer, 1996). He also published two books in French on a neo-Kantian interpretation of quantum mechanics and on quasi-realism and anti-realism in science, in 1996 and 1998 respectively. In 1997 he was the recipient of an award from the  Academie des sciences morales et politiques for his work in the philosophy of quantum mechanics.

Later on, he focused on the much debated connections between the philosophy of quantum mechanics and the philosophy of mind. He published a book on that topic in French in 2000, and worked in close collaboration with Francisco Varela in the wake of this work. He is presently pursuing this line of research by developing a conception of consciousness inspired from neurophenomenology, and an epistemology of first-person knowledge. Besides, he also learnt some Sanskrit in order to get a better understanding of basic texts by Nagarjuna and Candrakirti, and recently published a book ( De l’intérieur du monde : pour une philosophie et une science des relations, 2010) in which he draws a parallel between Buddhist Interdependance and non-supervenient relations in quantum physics and the theory of knowledge.


Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.

Dr. Lorenzo Cohen is Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Dr. Cohen is currently conducting a number of NIH-funded randomized controlled clinical trials examining the biobehavioral effects of contemplative mind-body practices aimed at reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life including studies of meditation, Tibetan yoga, Patanjali-based yoga, Tai chi/Qigong, and other behavioral strategies such as stress management, emotional writing, and neurofeedback. He is interested in examining different types of complementary programs that can be easily incorporated into conventional treatment to decrease the psychophysiological consequences associated with treatment and improve outcomes. He is principal investigator of a newly funded phase III clinical trial of yoga for women with breast cancer with colleagues from Bangalore, India and a phase III clinical trial of acupuncture to prevent radiation-induced xerostomia with colleagues from Shanghai, China. Dr. Cohen is also conducting research to demonstrate that lifestyle changes can influence cancer outcomes.  Ongoing studies are examining lifestyle changes in the areas of diet/nutrition, physical activity, and stress management/social network to change the risk of developing cancer and influencing outcomes in those with cancer.


Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.

Richard J. Davidson is the Director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and Director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his B.A. and Ph.D., respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of thirteen books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature and The Handbook of Affective Science.

Professor Davidson has also written more than 250 chapters and journal articles. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Mental Health. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in May, 2006 and in November, 2006 he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing. In 1992, as a follow-up from previous Mind and Life meetings, he was a member of a scientific team doing neuroscientific investigations of exceptional mental abilities in advanced Tibetan monks.



(W.M. Keck Laboratory): http://tezpur.keck.waisman.wisc.edu


Sona Dimidjian, Ph.D.

Dr. Sona Dimidjian is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research addresses the treatment and prevention of depression, including a particular focus on the mental health of women during pregnancy and postpartum. She is a leading expert in cognitive and behavioral approaches to treating and preventing depression and has a longstanding interest in the clinical application of mindfulness and contemplative practices. Currently, she is conducting research on the use of a range of meditative practices, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and compassion practice.


John Dunne, Ph.D.

ohn Dunne is an associate professor in the Department of Religion at Emory University, where he is Co-founder of the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies. He was educated at the Amherst College and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. from the Committee on the Study of Religion in 1999. Before joining Emory’s faculty in 2005, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and held a research position at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Support from the American Institute of Indian Studies sustained two years of his doctoral research at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India.

His work focuses on various aspects of Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice. In Foundations of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy (2004), he examines the most prominent Buddhist theories of perception, language, inference and justification. More recent publications include articles on nondual approaches to mindfulness, Buddhist philosophy of language, and the epistemology of contemplative practice. His current research includes an inquiry into the notion of “mindfulness” in both classical Buddhist and contemporary contexts, and he is also engaged in a study of Candrakirti’s “Prasannapada”, a major Buddhist philosophical work on the metaphysics of “Emptiness.” He is a Mind and Life Fellow and an advisor to the Center for Investigating HealthyMinds. He frequently serves as a translator for Tibetan scholars, and as a consultant, he is involved in various scientific studies of contemplative practices.


Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory (a.k.a. PEP Lab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of  Positivity(Three Rivers Press, 2009). Her research reveals how positive emotions, fleeting as they are, can tip the scales toward a life of flourishing.

Winner of several awards for her research and teaching – including the American Psychological Association’s inaugural Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology’s Career Trajectory Award – Dr. Fredrickson  created her broaden-and-build theory to describe how positive emotions evolved for our human ancestors and how, today, they vitally shape people’s health and well-being.

Dr. Fredrickson’s scientific contributions have influenced scholars and practitioners worldwide, in disciplines ranging from education to business and beyond. Her research has been featured in the  New York Times Sunday Magazine, CNN, PBS, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere. In May 2010, she was invited to brief His Holiness the Dalai Lama on her research.


Richard Freeman

Richard Freeman has been a student of yoga since 1968. He has spent nearly nine years in Asia studying various traditions which he incorporates into the Ashtanga yoga practice as taught by his principal teacher, K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India. Richard’s background includes studying Sufism in Iran, Zen and Vipassana Buddhist practice, Bhakti and traditional Hatha yoga in India. Starting in 1974 he also began an in-depth study of Iyengar yoga, which eventually led him to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Richard is an avid student of both Western and Eastern philosophy, as well as Sanskrit. His ability to juxtapose various viewpoints, without losing the depth and integrity of each, has helped him develop a unique, metaphorical teaching style. Richard teaches public classes at the Yoga Workshop as well as spending a good part of each year traveling as a guest instructor, teaching at studios throughout the world. He is the author of The Mirror of Yoga (Shambhala Publications) as has a number of practice videos and CD’s on the subjects of yoga asana, chanting, pranayama and Indian philosophy.


Mark Greenberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Greenberg holds The Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. He is currently the Director of the Prevention Research Center. Since 1981, Dr. Greenberg has been examining the effectiveness of school-based curricula (The PATHS Curriculum) to improve the social, emotional, and cognitive competence of elementary-aged children. Since 1990, he has served as an Investigator in Fast Track, a comprehensive program that aims to prevent violence and delinquency in families. His research has focused on the role of individual, family, and community-level factors in prevention. Current studies include the evaluation of Communities That Care and The PROSPER Model. He received the Research Scientist Award from the Society for Prevention Research in 2002.


Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D.

Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology in 1973 while teaching at the University of Miami Medical School. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions, including Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, University of Virginia Medical School, Duke University Medical School, University of Connecticut Medical School, among many others. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, and is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.

From 1972–1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho-social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying . She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder and Director of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. For the past twenty-five years, she has been active in environmental work. She studied for a decade with Zen Teacher Seung Sahn and was a teacher in the Kwan Um Zen School. She received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman.

A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than three decades has focused on applied Buddhism. Her books include:  The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof);  The Fruitful Darkness; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; Being with Dying: Compassionate End-of-Life Care Professional Training Guide, and  Wisdom Beyond Wisdom (with Kazuaki Tanashashi). She is a Lindisfarne Fellow and Co-director of the Fellowship and a Mind & Life Board member.


Carolyn Jacobs, Ph.D.

Dr. Carolyn Jacobs is Dean and Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor and Director of the Comtemplative Clinical Practice Advanced Certificate Program at Smith College School for Social Work; Chair, Board of Directors of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society; member, Board of Trustees of Naropa University and Our Lady of the Elms College; member, Fetzer Institute Health Advisory Council.  She participated as a panel member in the Hospice Foundation of America’s 18 th Annual Living with Grief® Program, Spirituality and End-of-Life Care.

Dr. Jacobs’ areas of teaching and professional interest include research, and religion and spirituality in social work clinical practice and organizational behavior. She has written and presented extensively on the topic of spirituality in social work.  Recently she was guest editor of Smith College Studies in Social Work’s “Special Issue: Spirituality and Clinical Social Work Practice.” In 2001 she was elected to the National Academies of Practice as a distinguished social work practitioner.

Dr. Jacobs received her B.A. from Sacramento State University, her M.S.W. from San Diego State University, her doctorate from the Heller School of Brandeis University, and her training as a spiritual director from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She maintains a spiritual direction practice.


Amishi P. Jha, Ph.D.

Amishi P. Jha, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami. She received her Ph.D. from University of California-Davis in 1998, received her post-doctoral training in the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University (Durham, NC, USA) in functional neuroimaging, and was an Assistant Professor at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, before joining the University of Miami in 2010. Her research program involves the use of functional MRI, electroencephalography (EEG), and neurobehavioral measures to investigate the basic mechanisms of attention and working memory. Over the last several years, her work has expanded to investigating if and how attention and working memory are altered with mental training techniques involving mindfulness-based practices in a variety of populations (including predeployment military service members, medical and nursing students, teachers, patients with ADHD, and children). Her work is supported by the Dept of Army, Medical Research and Material Command, NIH-NCCAM, and private foundation grants.


Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D,. is founder and former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic, where mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) originated. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in 1971 in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria.

His research since 1979 has focused on mind/body interactions for healing and on the clinical applications and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and stress-related disorders, including a work-site study of the effects of MBSR on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system (in collaboration with Dr. Richard Davidson). He has trained groups from a wide variety of professions in mindfulness.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn is a founding fellow of the Fetzer Institute, and a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. He received the Art, Science, and Soul of Healing Award from the Institute for Health and Healing, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco (1998), the 2nd Annual Trailblazer Award for “pioneering work in the field of integrative medicine” from the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, California (2001), the Distinguished Friend Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (2005), and an Inaugural Pioneer in Integrative Medicine Award from the Bravewell Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine (2007).

Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founding convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and a member of the Board of the Mind and Life Institute. He was co-program chair of the 2005 Mind and Life Dialogue: The Clinical Applications of Meditation, held in Washington DC.

He is the author and co-author of many books about mindful living, including Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, and most recently, Arriving At Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness, and with Williams, Teasdale, and Segal, The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.

Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., ABPP

Marsha Linehan is a Professor of Psychology and adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and is Director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, a consortium of research projects developing new treatments and evaluating their efficacy for severely disordered and multi-diagnostic and suicidal populations.  Her primary research is in the application of behavioral models to suicidal behaviors, drug abuse, and borderline personality disorder.  She is also working to develop effective models for transferring science-based treatments to the clinical community.

She is the past-president of both the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy and of the Society of Clinical Psychology, Division 12, American Psychological Association. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychopathological Association and is a diplomat of the American Board of Behavioral Psychology.

She is the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) a treatment originally developed for the treatment of suicidal behaviors and since expanded to treatment of borderline personality disorder and other severe and complex mental disorders, particularly those that involve serious emotion dysregulation.

Dr. Linehan has written three books, including Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder and Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder.


Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D.

Kathleen McCartney is the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development. Her research program concerns early experience and development, particularly with respect to child care, early childhood education, and poverty. She is a member of the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, which published the results of their longitudinal study in numerous articles as well as in their book, Child Care and Child Development. McCartney also co-edited The Blackwell Handbook of Early Childhood Development. McCartney received her B.S. in psychology from Tufts University, where she now serves as a trustee, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Yale University. In 2009 she received the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Society for Research in Child Development. She is also a Fellow of the American Education Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society.


Jerome T. Murphy, Ed.D.

Jerome T. Murphy is the Harold Howe ll Research Professor of Education and former dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He received his BA from Columbia University, his MA from Teachers College, and his Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where his thesis work focused on education policy and politics.

Murphy’s career has combined work as a practitioner and a researcher. A former public school math teacher and private school administrator, he worked for the federal government developing education and consumer protection legislation and was associate director of the White House Fellows Program. His academic work has focused on administrative practice and organizational leadership, government policy, program implementation and evaluation, and qualitative methodology. At Harvard, Murphy was associate dean from 1982 to 1991 and dean from 1992 to 2001. As dean, he led the development of new initiatives in learning technologies, arts education, neuroscience and education, and school leadership.

Murphy’s current teaching and research focus on the leadership opportunities and predicaments encountered in organizations facing considerable challenges — and how leaders can utilize mindfulness practices to savor the joy and handle the pain in these demanding circumstances. He is a member of the Leadership Council on Contemplative Education at the Garrison Institute and a member of the Initiative on Contemplative Pedagogy in Leadership Education, initiated by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.


Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.

Stephen Phillips is professor of philosophy and Asian studies at the University of Texas at Austin and has been visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He received a PhD from Harvard University after having attended Harvard College and for two years the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education in Pondicherry, South India. He is the author of seven books, including (with N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya) a 750-page translation of the perception chapter of Gangesa’s *Tattvacintamani*, entitled *Epistemology of Perception* (American Institute of Buddhist Studies and Motilal Banarsidass), an overview of yoga philosophy and defense of yoga psychology and philosophy, *Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy* (Columbia University Press), which was named by *Choice* magazine an “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2010, and most recently, *Epistemology in Classical India: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyaya School* (in press, Routledge). He is also editor or co-editor of several anthologies and has published more than fifty papers, including first-time translations of late classical Sanskrit philosophic texts. Professor Phillips teaches regularly an upper-division Philosophy course on yoga psychology and philosophies as well as upper-division and graduate-level courses on classical Indian philosophies.


Matthieu Ricard, Ph.D.

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. Born in France in 1946, he received a Ph.D. in Cellular Genetics at the Institut Pasteur under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob. As a hobby, he wrote  Animal Migrations (Hill and Wang, 1969). He first traveled to the Himalayas in 1967 and has lived there since 1972, studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, two of the most eminent Tibetan teachers of our times. Since 1989, he served as French interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

He is the author of  The Monk and the Philosopher (with his father, the French thinker Jean-Francois Revel), of  The Quantum and the Lotus (with the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan),  Happiness, A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill and  Why Meditate? He has translated several books from Tibetan into English and French, including  The Life of Shabkar and  The Heart of Compassion. As a photographer, he has published several albums, including  The Spirit of TibetBuddhist HimalayasTibetMotionless Journey and  Bhutan(www.matthieuricard.org). He devotes all the of proceeds from his books and much of his time to forty humanitarian projects (schools, clinics, orphanages, elderly people’s home and bridges) in Tibet, Nepal and India, through his charitable association Karuna-shechen (www.karuna-shechen.org) and to the preservation of the Tibetan cultural heritage (www.shechen.org).


Hal Roth, Ph.D.

Hal Roth is Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Brown University and is the Director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative. A pioneer in developing Contemplative Studies as an academic field, Roth is also a specialist in Early Chinese Religious Thought, Daoism, and the histories and practices of the East and South Asian wisdom traditions. He is author or co-author of seven books, The Textual History of the Huai-nan Tzu (Association for Asian Studies, 1992), “Inward Training” and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism (Columbia University Press, 1999), Daoist Identity: Cosmology. Lineage, and Ritual (w/Livia Kohn) (University of Hawaii Press, 2002),  A Companion to Angus C. Graham’s Chuang Tzu: the Inner Chapters (Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, 2003),  The Huainanzi: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Government in Early Han China (with John S Major, Sarah Queen and Andrew S. Meyer)(Columbia U Press, 2010), and the new Huainanzi: Basic Writings (with Major et al.) (Columbia. 2012). He has also published 50 articles and lectured widely in East Asia and the West. A long term practitioner in the Rinzai Zen tradition of Roshi Joshu Sasaki, Roth was ordained in 1987 with the Buddhist name “Kendo” (“Transmitter of the Way”).

Congressman Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, at the age of 29, and is currently serving in his fifth term representing Ohio’s 17th Congressional District. He maintains a strong commitment to the economic and social well-being of his constituents in northeast Ohio. He serves as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, as well as its Subcommittees on Readiness and on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He also serves as a member of the House Budget Committee and co-chairman of the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus.

Congressman Ryan has a daily mindfulness meditation practice. He has been an outspoken advocate for promoting mindfulness practice as an aid to dealing with the variety of complex problems facing the nation. During his tenure in the House, he has helped to get mindfulness and social and emotional learning programs established in several schools in his district. He also spearheaded a conference at a medical school in his district on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Before being elected to Congress, Ryan served in the Ohio State Senate, as president of the Trumbull County Young Democrats, as chairman of Earning by Learning in Warren, Ohio, and as a congressional aide. Congressman Ryan’s book, A Mindful Nation, is available at bookstores around the country.


Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg has been a student of meditation since 1971, and leading meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. She teaches both intensive awareness practice (vipassana or insight meditation) and the profound cultivation of lovingkindness and compassion (the Brahma Viharas).

Sharon’s latest book is the New York Times Best Seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, published by Workman Publishing. She is also the author of The Kindness Handbook and The Force of Kindness, both published by Sounds True; Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, published by Riverhead Books; Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness and A Heart as Wide as the World, both published by Shambhala Publications; and co-author with Joseph Goldstein of Insight Meditation, a Step-by-Step Course on How to Meditate (audio), from Sounds True. She has edited Voices of Insight, an anthology of writings by vipassana teachers in the West, also published by Shambhala.

Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work. “Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright.” For more information about Sharon, please visit: www.SharonSalzberg.com.


Clifford Saron, Ph.D.

Cliff Saron, Ph.D., is currently an Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California at Davis (http://mindbrain.ucdavis.edu), and faculty member of the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999 studying interhemispheric visuomotor integration under the direction of Herbert Vaughan, Jr. Dr. Saron has had a long-standing interest in brain and behavioral effects of meditation practice and has been faculty at the Mind and Life Summer Institute for the past three years. In the early 1990′s he was centrally involved in a field research project investigating Tibetan Buddhist mind training in collaboration with Jose Cabezón, Richard Davidson, Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace and others under the auspices of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute. Currently, in collaboration with Buddhist scholar Alan Wallace and a consortium of scientists at UC Davis and elsewhere, he is Principal Investigator of The Shamatha Project, a unique longitudinal study of the effects of intensive meditation training based on the practice of meditative quiescence ( shamatha) and cultivation of the four immeasureables (loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity) on attention-related skills and emotion regulation. The Shamatha Project is the most comprehensive and multimethod study to date regarding the potential effects of long-term intensive meditation practice on basic mental and physical processes related to cognition, emotion, and motivation. His other primary research interest focuses on investigating brain and behavioral correlates of sensory processing and multisensory integration in children on the autistic spectrum.


Tania Singer, Ph.D.

After Tania Singer received her Ph.D. in psychology from the Freie Universität Berlin in 2000 which was awarded the prestigious Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, until 2002.  Tania became a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, London in 2002 supported by a Leopoldina stipend and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London in 2006. Then, she accepted a position as assistant professor (2006-2008) at the University of Zurich and later as Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research. In 2010 she became a director of the Department for Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.  In 2011, she was awarded honorary professorship at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and at Humboldt University, Berlin and is a honorary research fellow at the University of Zurich. She has published multiple papers on the social brain in high-impact journals such as Science and Nature, and is currently an Advisory Board Member of the Society for Neuroeconomics. Tania investigates the foundations of human social behavior and, more specifically, the developmental, neural, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social cognition; social moral emotions such as empathy, compassion, envy, and fairness; and emotion-regulation capacities and their role in social decision making and cooperation. To achieve these goals, she uses a multi-method and interdisciplinary approach, where she combines theories, paradigms, and techniques from disciplines as varied as neuroscience, developmental and social psychology, psychobiology, and economics.


Wolf Singer, M.D., Ph.D.

Wolf Singer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and Founding Director of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for BrainResearch. He studied medicine at the Universities of Munich and Paris, received his M.D. from the Ludwig Maximilian University and his Ph.D. from the Technical University in Munich. Until the mid-eighties his research interests were focused on the experience-dependent development of the cerebral cortex and on mechanisms of use-dependent synaptic plasticity. Subsequently, his research concentrated on the binding problem that arises from the distributed organization of the cerebral cortex. The hypothesis forwarded by Professor Singer is that the numerous and widely distributed subprocesses which constitute the basis of cognitive and executive functions are coordinated and bound together by the precise temporal synchronization of oscillatory neuronal activity. Professor Singer has published more than 300 articles in peerreviewed journals, contributed more than 200 chapters to books, written numerous essays on the ethical and philosophical implications of neuroscientific discoveries, and published 3 books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the IPSEN Prize for Neuronal Plasticity, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine, the Zülch Prize for Brain Research, the Communicator Prize of the German Research Foundation and the INNS Hebb Award. Prof. Singer was awarded a Dr. h.c. from Oldenburg University and Rutgers University, N.J. He is member of numerous national and international academies, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He served as President of the European Neuroscience Association, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Max Planck Society, and is member of numerous advisory boards of scientific organizations and editorial boards of scientific journals.


Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.

Brother David Steindl-RastBrother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B. was born in 1926 in Vienna, Austria. He studied art, anthropology, and psychology, receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. Since 1953 he has been a monk of Mount Saviour Benedictine monastery in New York. He was one of the first Roman Catholics to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue.

For decades, Brother David has divided his time between periods of a hermit’s life and extensive lecture tours. His audiences included starving students in Zaire and faculty at Harvard and Columbia, Buddhist monks and Sufi retreatants, New Age commune residents and naval cadets, Green Berets and international peace conference participants.

He has contributed to books and periodicals from the Encyclopedia Americana to the New Age Journal. He authored Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer and A Listening Heart, both reprinted and anthologized for more than two decades. Brother David co-authored Belonging to the Universe, with physicist, Fritjof Capra, and The Ground We Share on Buddhist and Christian practice with Robert Aitken Roshi. His most recent book is Deeper Than Words: Living the Apostles’ Creed.

Brother David co-founded www.gratefulness.org, a website supporting ANG*L (A Network for Grateful Living). It reaches more than 8,000 visitors daily, from over 200 countries.


Brian Stock, Ph.D.

Brian Stock is a historian of literacy, reading, and contemplative practices in the classical and medieval periods. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Cambridge and has taught in numerous universities in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Among his honours he has held the International Chair at the Collège de France and has delivered the Sather Classical Lectures in the University of California, Berkeley. In 2007 he was awarded the prestitious International Feltrinelli Prize of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (the Italian equivalent of the Nobel Prize) for his work in classical and medieval literature. With Charles Halpern he was one of the organizers of the Centre for Contemplative Mind and for two years chaired the committee of the American Council of Learned Societies for the Contemplative Practice Fellowships. His books and articles have chiefly dealt with relations between reading, the interior life of the mind, and secular and religious meditation in the classical period and the Middle Ages. His recent books include Bibliothèques intérieurs (2005), Ethics through Literature (2007), and Augustine’s Inner Dialogue : the Philosophical Soliloquy in Late Antiquity (2010).


Mary Taylor

Mary Taylor began studying yoga in 1971 while earning a degree in psychology. It was not until the early 80’s, when she moved to Boulder, that yoga became a central thread in her life. Before that yoga had provided a means of relieving stress, and honing a sense of focus and well being as she pursued a career as a chef and cooking instructor. In 1988 Mary traveled to India to study with K. Pattabhi Jois, and began to see the overlay of yoga with her interests in food, cooking, movement, anatomy and art. Mary has authored three cookbooks and co-authored a book which explores yoga, meditation and finding one’s personal dharma as a means of bring lasting meaning and happiness: What Are You Hungry For? Women, Food and Spirituality. She is the director of the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado.


John D. Teasdale, Ph.D.

John Teasdale trained in psychology at the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London.  For more than thirty years he held senior research positions in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  His research was aimed at getting a clearer understanding of the inter-relationships between cognition and emotion, and the ways in which that understanding could be applied to the analysis and psychological treatment of major depressive disorder. This research led to the development, with Zindel Segal and Mark Williams, of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. He has co-authored several books, including , Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, The Mindful Way through Depression and Affect, Cognition and Change. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientist Award (Division 12).  Since retiring he has focused on deepening his personal practice and understanding of mindfulness meditation.  He is seeking to find accessible ways to express traditional analyses of meditation and its significance in psychological terms.  He teaches residential insight meditation retreats for instructors of mindfulness-based applications.


Evan Thompson, Ph.D.

Evan Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He received his B.A. from Amherst College in Asian Studies, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. He is the author of Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2007) www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/THOMIN.html), and the co-editor (with P. Zelazo and M. Moscovitch) of The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2007) He is also the co-author with F.J. Varela and E. Rosch of The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1991) and the author of Color Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception (Routledge Press, 1995). He is currently working on a new book, titled  Waking, Dreaming, Being: New Revelations about the Self from Neuroscience and Meditation. Thompson held a Canada Research Chair at York University (2002-2005), and has also taught at Boston University. He has held visiting positions at the Centre de Récherch en Epistémologie Appliqué (CREA) at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the Mind and Life Institute’s Program and Research Committee.



Diana Chapman Walsh, Ph.D.

Diana Chapman Walsh chairs the inaugural board of the Broad Institute, and serves on the boards of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and on the MIT Corporation. She was a director of the State Street Corporation (1999-2007) and a trustee of Amherst College (1998-2010).

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she writes, speaks, and consults on higher education and leadership. Before assuming the Wellesley presidency, Dr. Walsh was Professor and chair of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Walsh’s tenure as twelfth President of Wellesley College, from 1993 to 2007, was marked by educational innovation, including a revision of the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, internships and service learning, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

In 1998, Wellesley’s Program in Religious and Spiritual Life helped catalyze a national movement by hosting “Education as Transformation,” a gathering of over 800 participants from more than 250 institutions. President Walsh evolved a distinctive style of self-conscious leadership rooted in a network of resilient partnerships and anchored in the belief that trustworthy leadership starts from within.

Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D.

Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D. is the President of the Mind & Life Institute. He is also professor of physics at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1978. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan. He has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester, and Hannover. He has been Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. 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 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 & Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He currently is an advisor to the World Future Council, and directs the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, which supports appropriate inclusion of contemplative methods in higher education. He has also been a co-founder of the Kira Institute, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society, president/chair of the Lindisfarne Association, and was a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.