This event is fully online. To participate, attendees will need to connect through their computer or mobile devices. Most live programming will be held during business hours Eastern Time. There will be recordings provided after all Plenary Sessions within 24 hours of each session  and the Concurrent and Symposia session recordings will be shared post events.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

10:00 am - 10:30 am   Opening Remarks

This session will include opening remarks from Mind & Life President, Susan Bauer-Wu and conference Co-Chairs, Linda Carlson and John Dunne. There will be a Contemplative Arts offering with Grant Jones.  

Contemplative Arts

Grant Jones will feature music as a medium to heal. His offering will draw from soul, alternative, and contemplative music traditions and seek to invite folks into feeling deeply. An ultimate aim for Grant is to have his music provide folks with a home for their most unlovable parts, and he hopes that those who listen feel held and cared for by his sound. His music is most often performed acoustically with guitar and vocals."

10:30 am - 11:30 am    Networking

11:45 am - 12:45 pm   Keynote and Q&A

"Educating the Hearts and Minds of Children in School: Emerging Research, New Discoveries, and Current Challenges in Contemplative Approaches in Education "

Kim Schonert-Reichl

There is a growing consensus among psychologists, educators, and the public at large that a more comprehensive vision of education is needed—one that includes an explicit focus on “educating the heart” and intentionally cultivates children’s social and emotional competencies and positive human qualities, including self-regulation, self-awareness, empathy, and compassion. This explicit and intentional focus on integrating educating the heart with educating the mind in school is necessary for the future of education and the world. Drawing from recent science, Kim will begin with a discussion on the importance of integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) programs with contemplative approaches. Following, Kim will highlight findings from research evaluating the effects of SEL programs that integrate mindful attention awareness on neural, behavioral, and biological processes, including new research examining epigenetics. She will pose some of the current challenges in the field of mindfulness in education, including:  How do we scale up programs and at the same time maintain program fidelity? How can we integrate these approaches into both in-service and pre-service teacher preparation? And, how do we determine which programs work for which individuals and under what conditions?  The presentation will end by offering some directions for future research. 

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm   Break

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm   Keynote and Q&A

"Understanding Human Thought Through Dynamic Brain Systems"

Kalina Christoff

Mind-wandering has recently come to occupy a central position in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Most theories and research so far have examined it in terms of task-unrelated or stimulus-independent mental contents that occur at particular moments of time. A defining feature of mind-wandering, however, are its dynamics: how thought moves over time. In this talk, she will introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its neural basis. She will propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a larger family of spontaneous thought processes – a family that also includes creative thought and dreaming. She will distinguish between two types of constraints on thought – deliberate and automatic – that can reduce thought’s spontaneous movement. Within this framework, fluctuations between spontaneous, automatic, and deliberate modes of thinking correspond to changing interactions among large-scale brain networks. Finally, the framework situates spontaneous thought within a broader conceptual space that allows its comparison to goal-directed thought, as well as to clinical disorders that make thought excessively constrained – such as in rumination and anxiety, or excessively variable – such as in ADHD.

2:45 pm - 4:15 pm   Concurrent Session I

Paper and Symposia Presentations across 6 Zoom rooms

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm   LIVE Poster Session I

Come meet more than 40 presenters who will be sharing their academic research on a wide variety of topics related to contemplative research

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm   Professional Development  Panel and Q&A

"Career Development Opportunities:  Planning Successful Research Career Transitions  and Grant Writing Tips"

National Center for Complementary Integrative Health 

Friday, November 6, 2020

9:00 am - 9:30 am   Morning Yoga

"Trul khor: Tibetan Yoga"

Alejandro Chaoul

Wake up your body’s energetic dimension of channels and chakras through the ancient contemplative practice of Tibetan yoga (Trul khor). This practice explores the potential of your body, breath and mind for clearing obstacles, and being doorways to your openness and clarity in meditation practice, and your everyday life.

We will also learn some of the Tibetan yogic practices which has been used in research protocols for people with breast cancer, lymphoma, and lung cancer, and how these breathing, movements and meditation tools to reduce stress and anxiety, help focus your attention, and improve sleep.


"Prana and Chi: Moving the Elements"

Hawah Kasat 

It all needs a place to go. Our thoughts. Our breath. Our bodies. Our spirits. Being physically confined and  isolated does create an opportunity for deep emotional, mental, and spiritual exploration. The breath is the  gateway to this inner sanctum. The breath is the bridge between the body and mind. During this session we  cultivate our ability to remain balanced and grounded in the midst of crisis. We'll drop into spaces of deep  meditation and discover the revitalizing effects Pranayama (the ancient yogic science of breath manipulation)  has on our central nervous system, stress levels, and anxiety. We will also explore together basic Qi Gong practices  drawn from Taoist traditions. The combined movements will get your blood flowing and have you prepared to start  your day!

10:00 am - 10:45 am   Meditation

"Taking a Stand by Taking Your Seat"

Jon Kabat-Zinn

In this meditation, Jon will guide us in taking up residency in awareness and apprehending the vast scope of human experience and interconnectedness in the only moment they can be apprehended—this one—and point out mindfulness’s individual, social, and global potential for optimizing well being and healing, including racial, economic, and global injustices and inequalities.

11:00 am - 11:30 am   Special Topic Discussion Groups and Coffee Break

"How to Publish Your Research"

Linda Carlson

"How to Get Your Research Funded: Grants, From Mind & Life and Beyond"

Gaelle Desbordes

"Community-Based Participatory Methods"

Helen Weng

"Challenges Regarding Research in Applied Settings"

Amishi Jha

Join in an opportunity to connect with experts and other interested participants on relevant research and career development topics during a choice of 4 informal discussions to be moderated by researchers in the field. This will be an opportunity for you to connect with others around issues of interest to you.  Following the sessions, an online community discussion forum will be available for further conversations.

11:45 am - 12:45 pm   Plenary Symposium

Clinical Panel: "Effects of Contemplative Training in Vulnerable Populations"

Moderator: Doris Chang

Panelists: Linda Carlson, David Creswell, and Cheryl Woods-Giscombe

This session will feature talks on how contemplative and mindfulness-based training can help to enhance social connectivity and aid in the development of individual and societal flourishing in vulnerable and marginalized populations, including older adults, African Americans and people living with chronic medical conditions.


David Creswell

Mindfulness training to decrease loneliness and enhance social connectivity in older adults

Loneliness is a major risk factor for morbidities and accelerated mortality among older adults, and there are few evidence-based interventions for helping lonely older adults. This talk will describe new findings from a recently completed randomized controlled trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (vs Health Education Program) in N=191 lonely older adults.


Cheryl Woods Giscombe

Reducing physical and mental health disparities in African Americans through the use of mindfulness-based interventions and contemplative practices. 

African Americans experience disproportionately high rates of chronic health conditions, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and inadequately treated mental health conditions, which are influenced and exacerbated by multi-level psychosocial and historical determinants and chronic psychological stressors.  Dr. Giscombe will share evidence supporting the potential benefits of culturally-congruent, mindfulness-based and contemplative practice interventions designed to reduce health disparities and promote well-being at individual, community, healthcare system, and policy levels.


Linda Carlson

Mindfulness-based interventions for people living with medical conditions: Focus on coping with uncertainty and fostering connection and meaning

Coping with chronic illness such as cancer or cardiovascular disease comes with a host of psychosocial challenges including living with uncertainty, loss of control and an unpredictable future. Mindfulness training has shown improvements in terms of symptom reduction and improved coping, but also helps people find benefits in traumatic experience, enhance a sense of meaning and purpose in life, and develop a connection with larger humanity. This talk will summarize research in this area with a focus on fostering connection and meaning through mindfulness-based interventions.

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm   Break

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm   Concurrent Session II

Paper and Symposia Presentations across 6 Zoom rooms

3:15 pm - 4:15 pm   Plenary Panel

"Starting from Experience: Neurophenomenology and the Vision of Mind and Life Europe"

Moderator: John Dunne

Panelists: Amy Cohen Varela, Antoine Lutz, and Andreas Roepstorff

Research on contemplative practices and their larger context can take various pathways, but as a methodology, one key method is neurophenomenology, an approach that fully acknowledges the mutual importance of an account of experience from within experience, along with measures, such as behavioral data and brain imaging, that purport to stand outside experience.  Developed especially by scholars and scientists from Europe, this approach reflects a larger vision of how to engage in contemplative research. Inspired by the methodological, scientific and philosophical underpinnings of neurophenomenology, this larger vision of contemplative research lies at the heart of Mind and Life Europe (MLE).  This panel explores the crucial role that an interdisciplinary research community plays in contemplative research, and how perspectives emerging from enactive and systems-based approaches to the study of mind, body and society are central to the ethos for this work. Leaders in the MLE community will reflect on the process of building this type of research community, and the specific case of neurophenomenology will be explored in the context of ongoing, empirical studies.

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm   LIVE Poster Session II

Come meet more than 40 presenters who will be sharing their academic research on a wide variety of topics related to contemplative research

Saturday, November 7, 2020

9:00 am - 9:30 am   Morning Yoga

10:00 am - 10:45 am   Meditation

"Cultivating Equanimity"

Margaret Cullen

Equanimity is often mistaken for indifference.  In fact, equanimity is the very quality that is needed when the stakes are high and you are deeply concerned about the outcome.  It allows us to recover perspective and balance in order to see clearly and act with wisdom.  Like all contemplative virtues, it can be trained.  In this session, Margaret will introduce the concept of equanimity and then lead a guided practice that cultivates equanimity using a range of techniques and prompts.

Contemplative Arts

Carine Gibert will be exploring voice, soundscapes and the transmission of the Earth's wisdom through her poetry. 

11:00 am - 11:30 am   Special Topic Discussion Groups and Coffee Break

"Digital Health & Apps"

David Creswell

"Mindfulness and Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion"

Doris Chang

"Recruitment & Retention in Research Studies"

Linda Carlson

"Challenges in Measuring Mindfulness, Compassion, and other Contemplative Constructs "

Dave Vago

Join in an opportunity to connect with experts and other interested participants on relevant research and career development topics during a choice of 4 informal discussions to be moderated by researchers in the field. This will be an opportunity for you to connect with others around issues of interest to you.  Following the sessions, an online community discussion forum will be available for further conversations.

11:45 am - 12:45 pm   Keynote and Q&A

"Contemplative Studies: An Ecological Methodology for Multidisciplinarity"

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad

Building on the conception of ‘ecological phenomenology’ that Maria Heim and Ram have developed, and which he has written about in his recent book, he will share that there is a deep ‘ecological’ conception of being human in the contemplative traditions that could provide a paradigm for looking at the disciplinary and reflexive phenomenology of the contemplative traditions that 1. Renders irrelevant the ontological inflexion points that inform contemporary western obsessions with dualism and physicalist reductionism, and thereby enables us to take a fresh look at cog/neuroscience and psychology; and 2. Permits a shift in the focus of attention to the environmental and prosocial dimensions of the contemplative life. In demonstration, he look at two otherwise epistemologically and metaphysically far-removed texts, Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga and the 15th c Yogic Advaitic Aparoksa-Anubhuti to delineate the larger contours of contemplative psychogeography.

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm   Break

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm   Plenary Panel

"Pathways to Resilience in the Pandemic from a Contemplative, Moral and Public Health Perspective"

Moderator: David Vago

Panelists: Richard Davidson, Vivek Murthy, and Molly Crockett

This plenary session will consider the key major challenges we face during and after the pandemic and social unrest from the lens of social, affective and contemplative neuroscience and from public health.  Insights from these disciplines will be applied to consider possible interventions and solutions for some of the key challenges we face today.  The panel will also highlight outstanding questions we need to address that are of both theoretical and practical import. This talk will focus on social connectedness, moral decision making and strategies to promote human flourishing during and post-pandemic.

2:45 pm - 4:15 pm   Concurrent Session III

Paper and Symposia Presentations across 6 Zoom rooms

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm   LIVE Poster Session III

Come meet more than 40 presenters who will be sharing their academic research on a wide variety of topics related to contemplative research

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm   Panel Discussion

"What Does Spirituality Mean To US?"

Fetzer Institute

Panelist: Mohammed Hamid Mohammed, Veronica Selzler, and Roman R. Williams

People across the U.S. have shared their personal experiences and perspectives about spirituality and religion in a national research study completed this year. Commissioned by the Fetzer Institute, the study aimed to learn more about the beliefs, behaviors, and benefits that undergird people’s spiritual and religious identification, and their relationship to community and civic life. The findings revealed both the nuance and commonality of spiritual experience and offers hope during these challenging times. Representatives from the Institute and advisors will share more about their unique collaborative approach, the mixed methodology used in the research, and consider with the audience the practical implications in this engaging and interactive session.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

9:00 am - 9:30 am   Morning Yoga

10:00 am - 10:45 am   Meditation

"A Guided Compassion Meditation"

Thupten Jinpa

Drawing on CCT (Compassion Cultivation Training), a protocol developed at Stanford and widely studied, in this session Thupten Jinpa will lead through a guided practice focusing on two key themes: Setting your Intention and Connecting with Our Common Humanity. The guided practice will be interspersed with brief explanations of key constructs, their rationale, and underlying theory of change, from the perspectives of both contemporary secular training and Buddhist contemplative tradition.

11:00 am - 12:30 am   Concurrent Session IV

Paper and Symposia Presentations across 6 Zoom rooms

12:45 pm - 2:00 pm   Closing and Awards

Award Ceremony for the Mind & Life Service Award and the PEACE Award

Our Mission:
Bridging science and contemplative wisdom to
foster insight and inspire action toward flourishing.

Our Values: