IONS at the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies

May 12, 2012
Cassandra Vieten

Here are some highlights from Research at IONS. I recently gave two presentations at the International Symposia for Contemplative Studies, which was hosted by the Mind and Life Institute and cosponsored by several other organizations including the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

One presentation focused on the development and effects of the Mindful Motherhood Training, a meditation and yoga-based intervention for pregnant women and new mothers that we developed with California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. This program is shown to reduce negative mood and anxiety in pregnant women and is now being tested in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco in the MAMAS Study, a large NIH-funded trial to develop interventions to promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Learn more about our Mindful Motherhood book and online course for pregnant women, new mothers, and the professionals who work with them.

The other presentation was part of a panel focused on the relational aspects of contemplative practices — or how the field of meditation science is moving from a focus on stress reduction and self-regulation to development of compassion and empathy. Convened by Michael Spezio from Cal Tech, and including Andy Dreitcer from the Claremont School of Theology, Brent Field from Princeton, and Tania Singer from the Max Planck Institute, the panel explored, with a standing-room-only group of contemplative scholars and scientists, the neural, emotional, and behavioral correlates of relational contemplative practices (practices that include others) — such as compassion practices, lovingkindness or metta practices, practices that include God or a benevolent higher power, and practices that are focused on the mother-infant dyad. Webcasts of the main plenary sessions of the Symposia are available here and, while all are fascinating, we especially recommend the session by Evan Thompson, Wolf Singer, and Mattheiu Ricard which ends with a fascinating and unusual (for this group) discussion of the possibility of remembrance of past lives and telepathy.

Right now IONS Senior Scientist Dean Radin is at the Integrative Medicine and Health 2012 conference where he is meeting with the editorial board of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, of which he is Co-Editor in Chief. In addition to his ongoing laboratory work on the double-slit experiment and other projects, Dean is also hard at work on his next book, which will be published by a division of Random House and is due to come out next year. It’s on the science of exceptional human capacities… stay tuned! (P.S. If you haven’t seen Dean speak lately, you might like this talk he gave at Google in 2008 — it’s one of the most viewed/downloaded talks in their series.)

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