EVA Alumni Talks

One of our chief missions at Mind & Life Europe has been to actively support the cutting-edge research of scientists, scholars, and clinicians working in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative science, notably through the annual European Varela Awards (EVAs). Now, with the launch of the ‘EVA Alumni Talks’, we are excited to share some of the most fascinating findings from these research projects with a wider audience. In the inaugural season of this series, we will have the opportunity to hear from alumni whose projects explore a wide range of topics, all with a focus on contemplative approaches to the human mind: from the use of microphenomenology in Anthroposophic meditation, to an in-depth study of the experience of nightmares, to the effectiveness of yoga interventions for depression, to mindfulness-based social and emotional learning protocols in early childhood education. We’ll also hear how the EVA project has helped to shape the longer arc of these researchers’ careers, foster new interdisciplinary collaborations, and encourage novel methodological approaches. We hope you’ll join us for this new adventure, which will be an important step in creating a community to welcome the next generation of contemplative researchers

Previous webinars

EVENT TYPETOPIC (click on the title to learn more)EVA ALUMNI SPEAKERDATE
Public Webinar on ZoomSocial engagement – an interactive balancing act between synchrony and exploration?
Click here to watch the recording!
Annika LübbertJune 29th 18:00 CEST
Public Webinar on Zoom“Investigating Brain Waves during Meditation in Experienced and Non-experienced Practitioners”
Click here to watch the recording!
Julio Rodríguez Larios, Ph.D.April 20th 18:00 CET
Public Webinar on Zoom“Mindfulness and Refugee Mental Health”
Click here to watch the recording! 
Anna Aizik Reebs, Ph.D.March 9th 18:00 CET
Public Webinar on Zoom“Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms”
Click here to watch the recording!
Nina Vollbehr, MSc.December 8th18:00 CET
Public Webinar on Zoom“Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model”
Click here to watch the recording!
Josipa Mihic, Ph.D.November 24th18:00 CET
Public Webinar on Zoom“Experiencing and Healing Nightmares”
Click here to watch the recording!
Michelle Carr, Ph.D.October 20th18:00 CEST
Pubic Webinar on Zoom“First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”
Click here to watch the recording!
Terje Sparby, Ph.D.September 22nd18:00 CEST

Julio Rodríguez Larios: “Investigating Brain Waves during Meditation in Experienced and Non-experienced Practitioners”

  • Date and time: April 19th, 2023 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Julio Rodríguez Larios
  • Topic of the webinar: “Investigating Brain Waves during Meditation in Experienced and Non-experienced Practitioners”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

In this talk, Julio Rodríguez Larios will present his research on the brain correlates of meditation practice. Specifically, he will present the results of the study that was supported by the European Varela Award in 2019. In this study, he assessed whether differences in the subjective experience of meditation between meditators and non-meditators are reflected in the Electroencephalogram (EEG). He will start his talk by giving a short introduction to EEG and human brain waves. He will also be sharing some of his personal experience with the European Varela Award and discuss future directions in this field of research.   

Julio Rodríguez Larios, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher currently affiliated with Columbia University (New York). Julio completed his BA in Psychology at the University of Málaga (Spain), his MA in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands), and his PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leuven (Belgium). Julio’s research is focused on the study of the neural basis of human cognition. He is specially interested in the role of human neural oscillations, which he usually investigates through the Electroencephalogram (EEG). 

Anna Aizik Reebs: “Mindfulness and Refugee Mental Health”

  • Date and time: March 30th, 2023 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Anna Aizik Reebs
  • Topic of the webinar: “Mindfulness and Refugee Mental Health”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

In the first MLE Friends talk of 2023, Anna Aizik Reebs will discuss mindfulness- and compassion-based interventions can be used to facilitate trauma recovery among forcibly displaced peoples such as refugees and asylum seekers. She will share her experience of applying and adapting mindfulness meditation training and care for refugees, through a clinical psychological science laboratory embedded in an unstable post-displacement setting. Specifically, she will discuss the development, implementation, and outcomes of a randomized controlled trial of Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R)—a mindfulness- and compassion-based intervention that is trauma-sensitive and socio-culturally adapted for diverse and forcibly displaced populations.

Anna Aizik Reebs, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the Observing Minds Lab and The Moments of Refuge Project, in the School of Psychological Sciences at University of Haifa. Anna completed her BA and MA at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, and her PhD in Psychology at the University of Haifa. Anna’s main research interests include the cross-cultural application of mindfulness, the potential of mindfulness in trauma therapy, and the underlying mechanisms of action in mindfulness practice. In her dissertation research, Anna focused on the effects and mechanisms of a Mindfulness-Based-Trauma-Recovery (MBTR) intervention for the mental health and wellbeing of traumatized Eritrean refugees residing in Israel. In her post-doctoral work, Anna is focusing on the implementation and outcomes of an online mindfulness intervention for traumatized refugees and asylum seekers. Anna’s research and training has been supported by the Mind & Life Europe Varela Award in 2017 as well as through a Minerva Fellowship from the Max-Planck Institute.

Nina Vollbehr: “Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms”

  • Date and time: December 8th, 2022 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Nina Vollbehr
  • Topic of the webinar: “Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms
  • Click here to watch the recording! 

In the fourth talk of this series, Nina Vollbehr will discuss the effects and potential working mechanism of Yoga for deprression. Yoga is increasingly used by individuals as a means of treating depression. Given its combination of exercise and meditative practices, yoga may be well-suited to treat mood disorders. However, previous research is often criticized for methodological limitations that make it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of yoga interventions. In this talk Nina Vollbehr will present several studies that examine the potential effects and working mechanisms of yoga for depression. The presentation will begin with a meta-analysis of existing evidence on the effectiveness of hatha yoga for (chronic) mood disorders. Second, a lab study is presented that was designed to assess whether a 2-week yoga intervention reduces symptoms of depression in a sample of undergraduate students and whether these benefits may be partially mediated by rumination. After this, a feasibility study is presented in which a 9-week mindful yoga intervention was designed and tested for acceptability and potential effects and working mechanisms in a group of 12 patients with chronic mood disorders. Last, the results of a randomized controlled trial are presented in which 171 young women with major depressive disorder were assigned to a 9-week mindful yoga intervention added to treatment as usual versus treatment as usual only.

Nina Vollbehr, MSc is a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in Groningen. She works as a clinician as well as a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. She holds a MSc degree in clinical psychology from the University of Utrecht as and is licensed as a registered mental health psychologist in the Netherlands. She is also a RYT 500 registered yoga teacher.

Her research focuses on yoga for (chronic) mood disorders and potential mechanisms such as rumination and self-compassion. She was awarded the Mind & Life Varela Award in 2015 for her research on yoga for young women with depression.

Dr. Josipa Mihic: “Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model”

  • Date and time: November 24th, 2022 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Dr. Josipa Mihic
  • Topic of the webinar: “Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

In the third talk in this series, Dr. Mihic will discuss the findings from her research that examines if the introduction of empirically-tested MAPS (mindful awareness practices) to all school personnel improves school climate and has a positive impact on the wellbeing and prosocial behavior of personnel and students.

Josipa Mihic, is an associate professor and head of the Department of Behavioral Disorders at the study program of Social Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb.She teaches courses in the field of mental health promotion and prevention science at the graduate and postgraduate level. As a co-founder of a Laboratory for Prevention Research (PrevLab) she has been involved in multiple international projects focused on prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral problems of children and youth and mental health promotion. Her areas of research focus are promotion of socio-emotional learning and mental health of children and adults in education, prevention of behavioral problems, effects of mindfulness/meditative practices on positive development of individuals (involving mindfulness apps), positive youth development, and role of compassion and self-compassion in preventing behavioral problems and mental health promotion. She is a co-founder of the national platform for the promotion of meditative activities for children and teachers – minimindfulness. She was trained in Gestalt psychotherapy at The European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT) and works as a children and adults’ psychotherapist at the Teaching and Clinical Center of the Faculty.

Dr. Michelle Carr: “Experiencing and Healing Nightmares”

  • Date and time: October 20th, 2022 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Dr. Michelle Carr
  • Topic of the webinar: “Experiencing and Healing Nightmares”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

In the second talk in this series, Dr. Carr will discuss her research path exploring neurocognitive, experiential, and therapeutic aspects of dream science, with a specific emphasis on nightmares and nightmare treatment.

She will outline a theoretical model of nightmare disorder as associated with impaired emotion regulation at both neural and cognitive levels, across waking and sleeping states. Then she will present findings from her in-depth EVA-funded study on the neurophenomenology of nightmares, including novel evidence that nightmare-prone individuals are highly sensitive to a range of sensory and emotional experiences, which may underlie their intensified dreaming. Dr. Carr will present insights from phenomenological interviews with nightmare sufferers, and describe intentional practices for healing nightmares by working with dreams in the waking and dreaming state. She will also present her current work on lucid dreaming – designed to bring agency and self-awareness into dreaming – as a promising treatment for nightmares.

Michelle Carr, Ph.D., is Co-Director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory (starting 2023) in the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, Montreal, and Adjunct Research Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Montreal. She studies the relationship between dreams and mental health, with particular interest in nightmares, lucid dreams, and new techniques in dream engineering.

Dr. Terje Sparby: “First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”

  • Date and time: September 22nd, 2022 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Dr. Terje Sparby
  • Topic of the webinar: “First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

The first talk in this new series took place on Thursday, September 22nd at 6pm CEST, by EVA alumni Dr. Terje Sparby, entitled “First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation.”

In this talk Dr. Sparby described the unfolding of a research endeavor based on the idea of a first-person approach to contemplative science. He outlined a philosophical framework for this approach, showing how it has been influenced by research on Anthroposophic meditation, and giving examples of how first-person methods can contribute to current research on meditation and contemplative development. The guiding idea and motivation behind this approach is that it is possible to involve oneself fully as a practitioner in the research one does. A meditator’s exploration of the process of awakening does not have to be separate from their scientific search for truth and their commitment to intellectual rigor. The research that he presented is based on previous work done as a visiting scholar at the Mind & Life Institute in the US and work supported by his Mind & Life Europe, European Varela Award, awarded to him in 2014.

Terje Sparby, PhD is a philosopher and meditation researcher. His main areas of research are German idealism, consciousness, and phenomenological or first-person methods. He studied philosophy at the University of Oslo and received his PhD in philosophy at Heidelberg University in 2012. The topic was Hegel’s conception of the determinate negation. He has been a postdoc at Humboldt University and the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging. He has also been a visiting scholar at the Mind & Life Institute and collaborated with researchers part of Varieties of Contemplative Experience project. He did his habilitation at the Witten/Herdecke University, co-organises the First-Person Science of Consciousness conference. Currently, he is a professor of philosophy at the Steiner University College in Oslo. He is a member of IBAP (Integriertes Begleitstudium Spirituelle und Anthroposophische Psychologie) and the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, and collaborates with the The Meditation Research Group at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

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