Exclusive MLE Friends Talks

About the Talks

Mind & Life Europe hosts interactive talks on a monthly base for members of the MLE Friends community.

The webinar lasts for one hour (60 min.). It includes a talk by one of of our MLE Association or (Honorary) Board Members (30 min.) and a Q&A session (30 min.).

Note on registration: All MLE Friends will automatically receive an email for registration a week before the webinar starts. People who subscribe to the MLE Friends community at a later point of time, will be sent an extra email.

Please note: live access is granted to MLE Friends only. 

Please go to Upcoming Events to find the upcoming MLE Friends Talks

Previous Talks

Since 2020, we have hosted different webinars for our MLE Friends. See below to get an overview of the high-quality webinars we hosted together with selected members from our European community.



“’Intimate distances’: Reflections about, and with, Francisco Varela”Dr. Sebastjan Vörös MLE Association MemberDecember 14th


“Epigenetic times: impact on individuals, society, and future generations”
Dr. Perla Kaliman MLE Association MemberNovember 30th
“Care and Knowledge: Buddhist-Murdochian Challenges to Making the Impersonal Interpersonal”
Dr. Amber Carpenter
MLE Association Member
October 19th


“Between theory and practice: Enaction and the caring professions”
Dr. Hanne De Jaegher
MLE Association
September 28th
Webinar“Caring for Life through Language and Emotion: Psychoanalysis as Translation”Leslie De Galbert
MLE Board Member
June 8th
“Mindfulness in a Secular Context: Opportunities and Challenges”
Geneviève Hamelet
MLE Association Member
May 11th 
Webinar “Caring for Contemplative Life: A Matter of Practice?”Dr. Martijn van Beek
MLE Association Member
March 16th
Webinar“Visions for Contemplative Collaborative Cultures – in Science, Academia and Beyond”Dr. Wolfgang Lukas
MLE Association Member
February 16th


Webinar “Neuroscientific and phenomenological insights on different forms of Buddhist meditation”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Antonino Raffone
MLE Association Member
November 10th, 2022
Webinar“How to work with the ‘sticky’ mind? Recent findings from contemplative neuroscience”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Marieke van Vugt
MLE Association Member
September 15th, 2022
Webinar “Mindfulness-based interventions in the prevention and treatment of depression: we are already there and we are only just beginning”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Thorsten Barnhofer
MLE Association Member
July 13th, 2022 
Webinar“Epilepsy and Ecstatic Experience”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Fabienne Picard
MLE Association member
June 8, 2022
WebinarCommunity of Contemplative Education (CCE)”Bringing Calm to Kids: the ‘Dream of the Good’ Project in Sweden”
Click here to watch the recording!
Anna BornsteinMay 18, 2022
Webinar“Social Robotics: On the Edges of Brain, Body, and Environment”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Luisa Damiano April 27, 2022
Webinar‘Beyond Confines’ Webcast – Track Philosophy, Series 2
Live Q&A session on “Consciousness, East and West”
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Michel Bitbol
MLE Association Member 
April 13, 2022
Webinar“In-active Inference: The Epistemic Value of Contemplative Practice”
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Giuseppe Pagnoni
MLE Association Member
April 6, 2022
WebinarWalking at the Edge: A Psychiatrist’s Practice of Zen and Mindfulness
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Edel Maex
MLE Association Member
February 9, 2022


2020 / 2021

WebinarMeditation and Pain from the Lenses of Phenomenology and Neurosciences
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Antoine LutzMLE Association MemberMay 27, 2020 
WebinarThe Mindful Brain
Click here to watch the recording!
Dr. Elena AntonovaMLE Association MemberJune 20, 2020 
WebinarThe Power of Compassion – Lessons from the Resource Project
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Dr. Tania SingerMLE Honorary Board MemberJuly 8, 2020 
WebinarThe Subtle Mind: Essence and Interdependence
Click here to watch the recording!
Diego Hangartner, Pharm.D., PCCMLE Association MemberSeptember 9, 2020 
WebcastBeyond Confines: Following our Tracks (Philosophy)Launch of MLE Webcast
Click here to watch Track Philosophy Season 1!
Prof. Dr. Michel Bitbol, MDMLE Assocation MemberSeptember 22, 2020
WebinarRainbow Body and Resurrection
Click here to watch the recording!
Father Francis TisoMLE Association MemberOctober 14, 2020 
WebinarBeyond Confines: Following our Tracks (Philosophy)Interactive webinar (90min.) for Q&A regarding the webcast on Philosophy
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Dr. Michel Bitbol, MDMLE Assocation MemberOctober 20, 2020 
WebinarBeyond Confines: Following our Tracks (Education)Interactive webinar (90min.) for Q&A regarding the webcast on Education
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Katherine Weare, PhDMLE Assocation MemberNovember 24, 2020 
WebinarMeditative practice and micro-phenomenology
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Dr. Claire Petitmengin,MLE Association MemberMarch 24, 2021 
Webinar Embodied Critical Thinking
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Donata Schoeller, PhDMLE Association MemberApril 28, 2021 
Webinar The no-nonsense meditation book
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Dr. Steven Laureys,MLE Association MemberMay 25, 202118:00 CEST
Webinar Awareness-based wellbeing in schools: Empowering Educators
Click here to watch the recording!
Kevin HawkinsOctober 25, 2021 
WebinarImplementing Mindfulness in Schools: An Evidence-Based Guide
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Katherine Weare, PhDMLE Association MemberNovember 4, 2021 
WebinarImplementation of Mindfulness and SEL skills into public schools in Finland & Learning from the Religious and Ethical Critiques of Mindfulness in Public Schools
Click here to watch the recording!
Prof. Salla-Maarit VolanenVille HusgafvelNovember 16, 2021 
WebinarPolitics of Being: Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm
Click here to watch the recording!
Thomas LegrandDecember 2, 2021 

Webinars in 2023

Webinar: “Caring for Life through Language and Emotion: Psychoanalysis as Translation”

Can psycho-dynamic depth psychology be a missing link in our dialogues that explore the nature and the lived experience of consciousness? What can an exploration of psychoanalysis bring to our understanding of the concepts of cognition and enaction? Where does an unconscious mind fit into the picture? Addressing these and other reflections on her work, Leslie will seek to broaden our understanding of the dynamic processes of the psyche. She will unfold how, from concepts and theories that were conceived over a century ago and have since become a robust methodology, the practice of psychoanalysis engenders transformations of our lived life that might also be seen as translations. 

Leslie de Galbert, B.A. in Philosophy, Hollins University; D.E.S.S. in Clinical Psychology, University of Paris VII. Member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology and of the Association of Graduate Analytical Psychologists, Zürich. Born and raised in the United States, she has lived in Paris, France since 1972. As a clinical psychologist, Leslie worked in the public hospital system in Paris, in geriatrics and palliative care. As a psychoanalyst in private practice in Paris, she was a member of the Société Française de Psychologie Analytique for 25 years. For the IAAP, she supervised the training of psychoanalysts in Tbilisi, Georgia, and today continues this work from Paris.

She has published articles in the Cahiers jungiens de psychanalyse and the Revue de Psychologie Analytique, and enjoys translating articles on philosophy and psychoanalysis from French into English. Leslie has followed Mind and Life Institute dialogues since their beginnings in the 1980’s, and has also been an Association member of Mind & Life Europe since 2018 and a Board Member since 2022.

Webinar: “Mindfulness in a Secular Context: Opportunities and Challenges”
  • Date and time: May 11th, 2023 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Geneviève Hamelet
  • Topic of the webinar: “Mindfulness in a Secular Context: Opportunities and Challenges”

The “mindfulness revolution,” as it has been called, has taken hold in the lion’s share of Western, developed countries, but it has not arrived without a certain amount of pushback, particularly in countries such as France, where it can be perceived as a contradiction to strongly held secularist ideals. Although mindfulness practices, particularly those developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, purport precisely to offer a non-religious methodology to work with the human mind, some may question their validity and neutrality when applied in public settings, such as schools and hospitals. And yet, the research has shown many of the potential benefits of mindfulness training for lay people coming from a wide range of demographics. In this talk (which will be hosted as an interview), seasoned mindfulness and MBSR instructor and MLE Association Member, Geneviève Hamelet, will draw upon her long experience to raise some essential questions about the application of mindfulness in a highly secularized context, particularly in her home country of France. Her talk will be the occasion for us to collectively reflect upon the place of mindfulness in contemporary culture (including its legal and political ramifications) and the mechanisms of the practice that have caused some to regard it with a certain measure of skepticism.

Geneviève Hamelet is co-founder and board member of ADM in France  (Association pour le développement de la Mindfulness). After a career as a journalist, she trained as a Sophrologist in the 90s and an MBSR instructor in 2009. She is a certified MBSR teacher with the CFM/UMass Medical School, where Jon Kabat-Zinn created the program of “Mindful Based Stress Reduction.” She is also recognized by Brown University as a teacher trainer and a supervisor within the GMC (Global Mindfulness Collaborative).

Geneviève has also been practicing meditation for the last 30 years in the Tibetan tradition, and more recently in the Sangha Forest tradition. In this context, she holds a Semrig Thablam Mawa degree  (STM) in the “Inner Science of Mind and Phenomena” and its applications, from the Tarab Institute, founded by Tarab Tulku Rinpoche and Lene Handberg to promote the universality of ancient Indo-Tibetan wisdom in the modern world. She also gives teachings based on Buddhist psychology and philosophy within the Tarab Institute. Since 1997, she has been the interpreter for many celebrated meditation teachers, such as Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, Tarab Tulku Rinpoche, Akincano, Ajahn Amaro, Ajahn Sucitto, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Tara Brach, Rebecca Crane, Jack Kornfield, Florence Meleo-Meyer, Frank Ostaseski, Saki Santorelli, Bob Stahl, and others. She is also a member of the board of FBT (Fédération du Bouddhisme tibétain) where she has contributed to the organization of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in France.

Webinar: “Enaction between Theory and Practice: The Caring Detectives”
  • Date and time: April 27th, 2023 at 18:00 CEST – CANCELLED: Unfortunately, due to illness this evening’s MLE Friends talk has been cancelled. A new date for this talk will be announced in a future email.
  • Speaker: Dr. Hanne De Jaegher
  • Topic of the webinar: “Enaction between Theory and Practice: The Caring Detectives”

How to go in search of caring — the caring that we already know, and the caring that we can still learn, the caring that is in fact an ongoing learning between us?  

I will attempt to lay bare some of the logic and principles of the enactive approach as an engaging epistemology, through some personal stories about dementia, and some elements from research and practice, especially in the area of autism dialogue.  

I would like to show the enactive logic at work in a mutual rapprochement of, or in a space between, practice and theory. There seems to be an increasing desire from practitioners in the helping, clinical, and pedagogical professions to better understand enactive theory, to have access to and apply the enactive logic, and to ground their practice in it. On the other hand, enactive theory also benefits from interacting with these forms of expertise, which are, in the most general sense, human expertise. Thinking about this space in-between will allow us to deepen some of the tensions between various poles of co-determination, such as carer and cared-for, student and teacher, knowing and not-knowing, experience and expertise.

Hanne De Jaegher, D.Phil., is a philosopher and cognitive scientist. She is fascinated by how we think, work, play—basically: live and love—together. For studying this, she has developed the enactive theory of intersubjectivity called participatory sense-making. Participatory sense-making provides a coherent and comprehensive framework for investigating our rich social lives. Its concepts and methodologies build bridges between different fields and sectors working on (inter-)subjectivity, and find application in real-life issues such as autism, therapeutic practices, learning and teaching, intimacy, development. In turn, these applications inform the further construction of the theory. She believes that interdisciplinarity and open-mindedness are essential for this work, and collaborates with psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, sociologists, physical therapists, systemic therapists, movement experts, people with autism. Hanne gained her D.Phil. at the University of Sussex (2007), and Licentiate at the Free University of Brussels (2001). She has been employed in three Marie Sk?odowska-Curie projects (one individual grant and 2 training networks), and has worked, among other places, at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, the Sussex Autistic Society, and the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Heidelberg. Since January 2015, she holds a Ramón y Cajal Research Fellowship from the Spanish government, and works at the IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind, and Society, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of the Basque Country. 

Webinar: “Caring for Contemplative Life: A Matter of Practice?”
  • Date and time: March 16th, 2023 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Dr. Martijn van Beek
  • Topic of the webinar: “Caring for Contemplative Life: A Matter of Practice?”

In an interview in 1989, Francisco Varela referred to spirituality as “the most fundamental kind of training” – “a kind of perspective that pervades every human activity.” As we can tell from his published work and accounts from those who were close to him, spirituality certainly pervaded his own thinking and practice as a scientist and as a contemplative.

As the Mind & Life project in North America, Europe, and around the world has evolved, spirituality has always been present, embodied by participants and activities, and also in the form of practices whose mechanisms and effects have been studied scientifically, discussed, and disseminated. While the very idea of Mind & Life invites a broad view of the spiritual, contemplative dimension of human life, some have raised concerns that, in research and in practice, the conception of spirituality risks becoming too narrow—too focused on meditation practices, their neural mechanisms, and effects. To raise the question of what spirituality might mean in our current post-secular age—as a broadly conceived, existential, collective as well as individual kind of training—is not to question the importance and significant contributions to human well-being of the work that has been accomplished. It is an invitation to engage living wisdom traditions and emergent forms of contemplative life, to appreciate their diversity and depth. What might it mean to care for contemplative life?

Martijn van Beek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated with the Interacting Minds Centre, both at Aarhus University, Denmark. Having previously spent many years working and conducting research in Ladakh and elsewhere in the Himalayan region, his current research explores the meeting ground between contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism, consciousness research and modernity. One of the goals of his current research is to contribute to refining our understanding of the significance of the spread of mindfulness and related forms of modern contemplative practice for people and for society today. He is also engaged in research on the (micro–) phenomenology of contemplative experience. Martijn teaches on contemplative life in context, in theory and in practice at Aarhus University; in the programme “Training Empathy” for professionals working with children and young adults offered by Børns Livskundskab, The Danish Society for the Promotion of Life Wisdom in Children; and at Vaekstcenter, the intentional community where he lives, and elsewhere.

Webinar: “Visions for Contemplative Collaborative Cultures – in Science, Academia and Beyond”
  • Date and time: February 16th, 2023 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Dr. Wolfgang Lukas
  • Topic of the webinar: “Visions for Contemplative Collaborative Cultures – in Science, Academia and Beyond”

In this talk, Dr. Wolfgang Lukas, will share ideas, projects, and visions for enacting a shared “spirit of collaboration” in and through research, contemplative practice, and community-building. He will invite reflections on inspirations and challenges, mentors and collaborators that have shaped such endeavors – including the Mindful Researchers initiative – and share proposals for how to help them further evolve, and how to foster contemplative and collaborative cultures in science, academia, and beyond.

Dr. Wolfgang Lukas holds an MSc degree in physics from Graz University of Technology and a PhD degree in physics from University of Innsbruck. He was a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN from 2010-2017. Intrigued by the vast potential and challenge of “bridging” scientific collaboration with contemplative practices and community-building, he initiated the Contemplative Scientific Collaboration project in 2016 and the Mindful Researchers initiative in 2020, with support by the Yoga Science Foundation. He contributes to research projects and publications related to open and collaborative science. Wolfgang began exploring contemplative practices in 2005, with an initial focus on Theravada Buddhism and a growing interest in Dzogchen. His heart also lights up for process facilitation (Art of Hosting, Council), participatory decision-making (certified moderator for Systemic Konsensing®), poetry, storytelling, filmmaking, deep ecology, contact improvisation, and walking barefoot. Wolfgang has been participating in MLE events since 2013, while supporting the ESRI community-building and hosting teams since 2017.

Webinars in 2022

Webinar: “Neuroscientific and phenomenological insights on different forms of Buddhist meditation”
  • Date and time: November 10th, 2022 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Prof. Antonino Raffone
  • Topic of the webinar: “Neuroscientific and phenomenological insights on different forms of Buddhist meditation”

In order to achieve an increased understanding of cognitive, conscious and affective processes, as well as brain networks, neurodynamics and mechanisms involved in different forms of meditation, Dr. Raffone and his team conducted a series of neuroscientific and phenomenological studies with the outstanding participation of Theravada Buddhist monks (Thai Forest tradition), i.e. long-term meditators with expertise in different forms of meditation, by means of electroencephalography (EEG), even related potentials (ERPs), magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and phenomenological (report of experience dimensions) studies. In all the experiments, focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM) were contrasted, together with a non-meditative rest condition. In a subset of studies also Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) was also investigated. The groups of long-term meditators taking part in the studies were compared with matched short-term meditators (controls). Meditation expertise was taken into account.

Dr. Raffone will present the main findings of these studies and their implications, including a focus on the major brain networks (through MEG and fMRI, including investigation of functional connectivity), a combined phenomenological and EEG/ERP study with pain stimulation (with rest, FAM, OMM and LKM conditions), and a combined phenomenological and EEG/ERP study with (visual) emotional stimuli (with rest, FAM and OMM conditions).

Taken together their findings lead to new insights in experience dimensions, consciousness, cognitive and affective processes, as well as brain processes, brain networks and mechanisms implicated in different forms of meditation as well as on functional neuroplasticity associated with meditation expertise.

The research has been supported by two grants from the BIAL Foundation (Portugal) on the project “Aware Mind-Brain: bridging insights on the mechanisms and neural substrates of human awareness and meditation”, and on the project “Advancements on the Aware Mind-Brain: New Insights about the Neural Correlates of Meditation States and Traits”, Grant number 272/20.

Dr. Antonino Raffone completed a Master in “Psychology” and a Doctorate in “Cognitive Psychology and Science” at Sapienza University of Rome. He is currently Full Professor at the Department of Psychology of Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). Prof. Raffone is also Visiting Professor at the “School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions” at Nalanda University, India. He is also Director of the Interuniversity Center ECONA at Sapienza University of Rome, President of “Consciousness, Mindfulness, Compassion – CMC – International Association”, and Chief Editor of the Specialty Section on “Consciousness Research” of Frontiers in Psychology. His internationally recognized research is interdisciplinary and multi-method, with a particular focus on cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and mindfulness meditation, as well as on their neurocognitive correlates and implications for psychological wellbeing. He is a member of Mind & Life Europe. 

Webinar: “How to work with the ‘sticky’ mind? Recent findings from contemplative neuroscience”
  • Date and time: September 15th, 2022 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Dr. Marieke van Vugt
  • Topic of the webinar: “How to work with the ‘sticky’ mind? Recent findings from contemplative neuroscience”

We spend a substantial amount of our waking time mind-wandering. Despite popular belief, it is not a bad thing necessarily. Mind-wandering only becomes harmful when it is so “sticky” that it is difficult to disengage from, and therefore interferes with other important tasks of life. For this reason, Dr. van Vugt is very interested in tracking such sticky thinking in the lab. She will demonstrate different methods to assess sticky thinking, for example based on computerized tasks or based on EEG. She will show how rumination may be a particular example of sticky thinking, and finally, she will present her ideas on how different contemplative practices may help to reduce the stickiness of our thinking.

Dr. Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering (ALICE) of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). The research in Dr. van Vugt’s lab focuses on how, when and why we mind-wander, and what the fundamental cognitive operations are that underlie meditation and mindfulness. Most recently, she started to investigate how analytical meditation practiced by Tibetan monks and nuns affects cognition and emotion. She addresses these questions using a combination of computational modeling, neuroscience, and experimental psychology tools. She very much enjoys projects were science, art (particularly classical ballet), and contemplation meet.

Webinar: “Mindfulness-based interventions in the prevention and treatment of depression: we are already there and we are only just beginning”
  • Date and time: July 13th, 2022 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Thorsten Barnhofer
  • Topic of the webinar: “Mindfulness-based intervention in the prevention and treatment of depression: we are already there and we are only just beginning”

Work on the use of mindfulness training in the prevention and treatment of depression has in many ways spearheaded the establishment of mindfulness-based interventions. Supported by evidence from rigorous clinical trials, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT, Segal, Teasdale, Williams, 2002) is now a guideline-recommended treatment for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression and research on this approach has now clearly shifted from development to dissemination. However, as with other established treatments for depression, about half of patients do not respond sufficiently. As the field is moving to address this wider challenge, there is a need to understand more clearly how and for whom mindfulness-based interventions for depression work. This talk will provide a brief overview of the current state of evidence, highlight current gaps in understanding, and present research that provides a sense of the unique potentials that mindfulness training offers in this context, both in terms of its psychological and biological effects. Please join us as we investigate one of the most prevalent global health concerns today and the research that is helping to address it.

Thorsten Barnhofer, PhD, is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, where he conducts research into the use of mindfulness-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of depression and associated mental disorders across the lifespan. He has a particular interest in the mechanisms by which mindfulness meditation may reverse the psychological and biological factors that hold chronic and recurrent forms of depression in place. A cognitive-behavioural therapist and mindfulness teacher, he regularly offers mindfulness workshops and retreats for mental health professionals.

Webinar: “Epilepsy and Ecstatic Experience”
  • Date and time: June 8th, 2022 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Fabienne Picard
  • Topic of the webinar: “Epilepsy and Ecstatic Experience”

Epilepsy has always provided a unique opportunity to get a better understanding of complex cognitive functions. In focal types of epilepsies, the seizures may be inaugurated by symptoms only experienced by the patient and not discernible to external observers. Rare patients suffering from epilepsy present a form of epilepsy called ecstatic epilepsy. During their epileptic aura, they experience a state of blissful mental clarity and a sense of union with the All. This state is close to the “mystical experience” which has been defined by the American psychologist William James by an ineffability (the experience defies expression), a noetic quality with a state of “knowledge”, transiency and passivity. Thus, a disruption of some brain functions related to an epileptic discharge in the brain may give rise to a state of non-duality and a feeling of ultimate reality.

We could demonstrate the major involvement of a cerebral structure called insula in the genesis of this ecstatic aura. Among its functions, the insula mediates the reception of the signals coming from the inside of the body (interoception). As the brain has been shown to function as a predictive machine to decipher the outside world, it always anticipates all the (external and internal) incoming signals, with a certain level of uncertainty, and generates an update of the predictions when necessary (when there is a mismatch between the predictions and the real incoming signals, i.e. surprise).

I hypothesized that the ecstatic state is related to the extinction of the interoceptive surprise. The epileptic discharge within the insula could prevent it from comparing the interoceptive predictions and the real interoceptive signals and from generating interoceptive surprise. This mimicking of a perfectly predicted physiological state of the body would allow the ecstatic quality of the experience, with an internal and outside world seeming to be understood and perfect.

Thus, this “mystical-type” experience may occur unexpectedly through a morbid condition such as epilepsy. Such a state could also occur in some expert meditators through training in the acceptance of uncertainty. During this talk I will share with you my views on the ecstatic or mystical-type experience and its brain correlates.

Prof. Fabienne Picard is neurologist in the EEG and Epilepsy Unit of the Neurology Department at the University Hospitals of Geneva. She holds a MD degree in medical studies in Neurology as well as a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DEA) in Cellular and Molecular Biology (neurobiology) from the Faculty of Medicine of Strasbourg, France and is internationally renowned in the field of epilepsy genetics.

Over the last ten years, her research has focused on the role of the insula in self-awareness through the study of ‘ecstatic’ epilepsy, which symptoms show similarities with states of consciousness reached in meditation. She has published around 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. 

Webinar: “Bringing Calm to Kids: the ‘Dream of the Good’ Project in Sweden”
  • Date and time: May 18th at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Anna Bornstein, writer and journalist
  • Topic of the webinar: “Bringing Calm to Kids: the ‘Dream of the Good’ Project in Sweden

In the most secular country on earth, short and simple mindfulness practices have become commonplace in school classrooms at all levels. Is this a dream? No, it has become a reality, thanks to the ‘Dream of the Good’ initiative in Sweden. In this heartfelt and engaging talk, Anna Bornstein, the founder of “Dream of the Good,” will tell the story of how such a project got off the ground and became the success that it is today. Drawing on her recent book Stillness in Preschool and School (Austin Macauley Publishers, 2022), Anna will recount her and her colleague’s formidable efforts and experience that were required to launch such a project and convince the many stakeholders in society of its utility.

This talk should be of interest to anyone interested in understanding the more practical side of implementing mindfulness practices in educational settings at all levels, especially in early-childhood education.

A bit about the project:  

The first seed was sown in 1995-96, through the non-violence project, the “Dalai Lama’s perspective,” in collaboration with the City of Stockholm, which involved all 24 of its municipal high schools. Organizers held seminars and workshops for students, teachers, and parents throughout the school year, and the project culminated with 7,000 high school students meeting the Dalai Lama in the Globe Arena in the spring of 1996.

The students’ enthusiasm for the short and simple mindfulness exercises inspired Anna and her team to develop a method that could be woven into the school curriculum at all levels, even as early as preschool. She founded the non-profit organization ‘Dream of the Good,’ and since then, a couple hundred teachers have been recruited every year to implement these simple practices in their classrooms. 

Subsequently, the practices have been researched in high schools and the results have shown that these simple exercises not only improve students’ mental health and peer relationships, but also their capacity for learning. In her recent book Stillness in Preschool and School (Austin Macauley Publishers, 2022), Anna recounts in detail how this project came about and what the concrete results have been for the students who have benefited from this unique program. 

Anna Bornstein is a Swedish writer and journalist, with a lifelong experience of stillness. Her books and journalism focus mostly on existential topics. For thirty years, she wrote regularly for the Swedish Daily News.

Webinar: “Social Robotics: On the Edges of Brain, Body and Environment”
  • Date and time: April 27th at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Luisa Damiano, Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the IULM University (Milan, Italy)
  • Topic of the webinar: “Social Robotics: On the Edges of Brain, Body and Environment”

This event is part of the ‘Standing at the Edge’ concept series. Click here to find out more.

Social robotics is an emerging area of contemporary robotics, dedicated to building robots capable of interacting with us humans through social signals that are compatible with ours. Among these signals, specialists in social robotics recognize affective signals as particularly important for the quality of the interaction. The ability of robots to communicate with humans through emotions is regarded as an essential ingredient to create for these machines a convincing “social presence”, apt to stimulate humans to see in them not mere tools, but “social partners” – artificial interlocutors. Due to this focus on “artificial empathy” and “artificial sociality”, social robotics establishes itself as a branch of engineering whose target is not only the production of new machines, but also the creation of new social relations – “human-robot social relations”.

Current developments in social robotics could spread this novel, socially connotated form of human-machine interaction on a large scale.The contemporary scenario of the growing diffusion of these robots draws our attention to the issue of their “social sustainability”, which polarizes the debate into either an enthusiastic acceptance of this technology or an outright condemnation of it. The present talk is committed to building a critical position, external to this polarization, based on an epistemological inquiry into how social robotics constructs emotional and social interactions between humans and robots. This reading of human-robot affective and social interaction, grounded in an “epistemology of participation” (F. Varela), leads the talk to propose a new ethical approach to the sustainable diffusion of social robots, and, most importantly, a message about the importance of our epistemological views, which can have a concrete impact on our future and the future of our social and environmental ecologies.

Dr. Luisa Damiano is Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the IULM University (Milan, Italy), and the coordinator of the Research Group on the Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial (RG-ESA). Her main research areas are: Epistemology of Complex Systems, Epistemology of the Cognitive Sciences, and Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial. Since 2007, she has been working on these topics with scientific teams all across Europe and in Japan. Among her publications there are many articles, the books Unità in dialogo (Bruno Mondadori, 2009) and Living with robots (with Paul Dumouchel, Harvard University Press, 2017) and several co-edited journal special issues. For more information about her interdisciplinary work, click here

Live Q&A session on Track Philosophy, Series 2: “Consciousness, East and West”
  • Date and time: April 13th at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Michel Bitbol, researcher at CNRS/Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.
  • Topic of the webinar: “Consciousness, East and West”

In the second series of our ‘Beyond Confines’, Track Philosophy program, Dr. Michel Bitbol delves into the problem of consciousness and our various attempts, across different scientific and philosophical traditions, to provide an accurate idea of its significance. He walks us through some of the major limitations of the contemporary Western approach of cognitive science, particularly as it concerns our understanding of “phenomenal consciousness” (the first-person approach to consciousness, or consciousness as understood from the ground up). Other approaches, such as phenomenology, the contemplative traditions, some schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Kyoto school of philosophy, provide rich alternatives and/or complementary perspectives to the standard (neuro)scientific view of consciousness, accounting for different levels of experience out of which a new science can be formed.

This series of seven short courses will culminate in a live Q&A with Dr. Michel Bitbol where MLE Friends will have the oppurtunity to talk to Dr. Bitbol about the topics raised in the latest course.

Michel Bitbol is researcher at CNRS/Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France. He received a M.D., a Ph.D. in physics and a ‘Habilitation’ in philosophy. After a start in scientific research, he turned to philosophy of science, editing texts by Erwin Schrödinger and formulating a neo-kantian philosophy of quantum mechanics.

He then studied the relations between physics and the philosophy of mind, in collaboration with Francisco Varela, and drew a parallel between Buddhist dependent arising and non-supervenient relations in quantum physics. He also developed a first-person conception of consciousness expressed from the standpoint of an experience of meditation. More recently, he engaged a debate with the philosophical movement called ‘speculative realism’, from the same standpoint.

Webinar: “In-active Inference: The Epistemic Value of Contemplative Practice”
  • Date and time: April 6th at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Giuseppe Pagnoni, associate Professor at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Topic of the webinar: “In-active Inference: The Epistemic Value of Contemplative Practice”

The theoretical framework of active inference proposed by Karl Friston is currently one of the more actively developed research areas in neuroscience. According to this theory, the brain adapts its synaptic activity and architecture in such a way that it de facto comes to mirror the causal structure of events that the organism both encounters and actively induces in its environment. In this talk, Dr. Pagnoni will walk us through how active inference can provide a useful perspective to better understand the processes engaged by contemplative practices. Zeroing in on the practice of shikantaza (“just sitting”) in the Japanese Zen Soto tradition, he will show us how meditation enacts a peculiar policy with high endogenous epistemic value, whereby the practitioner accrues an intimate, but not necessarily explicit, knowledge about herself. This superordinate policy entails the embodied, active suspension of our habitual reward-seeking and punishment-avoidance behavior, an attitude epitomized by the traditional notion of mushotoku (Jap. “nothing to be attained”). From this perspective, he will begin to examine some popular claims about meditation that are often misconstrued, which may not be without personal, social and even political consequences. 

We hope that you can join us for this talk, which should be of great interest to anyone curious about emergent approaches to the scientific study of contemplative practices. 

Giuseppe Pagnoni is Associate Professor at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. After a Master in Physics, he completed a PhD in Neuroscience and has worked for several years in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at Emory University, Atlanta (GA), USA. He has led and collaborated to neuroimaging studies on diverse topics including reward processing, the interaction of immune and brain function, social cognition, intrinsic brain activity, pain processing, mental effort, meditation. He is currently interested in the application of the predictive coding framework to the study of contemplative practices.

Webinar: “Walking at the Edge: A Psychiatrist’s Practice of Zen and Mindfulness”
  • Date and time: February 9th at 18:00 CET
  • Dr. Edel Maex renowned psychiatrist and Zen and mindfulness teacher from Belgium.
  • Topic of the webinar: “Walking at the Edge: A Psychiatrist’s Practice of Zen and Mindfulness”
Edel Maex, psychiater en zenleraar.

In this talk, Dr. Edel Maex shared with us some of the riches of his long experience as a psychiatrist teaching mindfulness and as a Zen practitioner and teacher. Starting from Platform Sutra, a landmark teaching of the Chan tradition of Buddhism, he unfolded two ways of relating — what he calls the “narrative mode” and the “presence mode”. He  specifically explored how the two are inextricably linked, like the front and back foot in walking, and how the two modes have informed his professional experience as a psychiatrist. This talk should be of interest to practitioners and non-practitioners alike, as it will point to the universal ways that we attempt to navigate the edges between certainty and uncertainty.

Dr. Edel Maex is a psychiatrist and Zen teacher living in Antwerp, Belgium. Teaching mindfulness became his way to integrate his Zen practice and his practice as a psychiatrist. He founded the Stress Clinic at the ZNA Hospital in Antwerp. He is the author of several books on mindfulness and Buddhism.

Webinars in 2021

Webinar: “Meditative practice and micro-phenomenology”
  • Date and time: Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 18:00 CET.
  • Prof. emer. Claire Petitmengin, MLE Association Member, talked about the scientific discipline of micro-phenomenology.
  • Topic of the webinar: Meditative practice and micro-phenomenology. At the instigation of Francisco Varela, a new scientific discipline has been developed to study lived experience with rigor and precision: micro-phenomenology. Like meditation, micro-phenomenology starts from the observation that a large part of our experience escapes us, and provides devices allowing us to become aware of it. In addition, the method makes it possible to describe experience verbally with great precision. In this talk I will describe the main principles of micro-phenomenology and explore some of its similarities and differences with Buddhist meditative practices.

Claire Petitmengin is Professor Emerita in Philosophy at the Institut Mines-Télécom and member of the Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her research focuses on the usually unrecognized dynamics of lived experience and ‘micro-phenomenological’ methods enabling us to become aware of it and highlight its essential structures.

She studies the epistemological conditions of these methods, as well as their educational, therapeutic, artistic and contemplative applications. She currently devotes herself to exploring the links between the ecological crisis and our blindness to our lived experience.

Webinar: “Embodied Critical Thinking”
  • Date and time: Wednesday, April 28, at 18:00 CEST.
  • Dr. Donata Schoeller, MLE Association Member, talked about her interdisciplinary research project on Embodied Critical Thinking, introduced the methods used and reflectd on current struggles and questions.
  • Topic of the webinar: Embodied Critical Thinking. There seems to be an unbridgeable gap between meditation in which one learns to let go of thoughts and the Western discipline of rigorous thinking in philosophy. The practice of meditation enhances peace of mind, compassion and depth of awareness. The practice of philosophy has over the centuries contributed in explicating and transforming unjustness and self-contradictions in non-questioned political, societal and religious thinking- and action-habits. The skill to think critically is thus the cornerstone of the Western enlightenment tradition. However, within and without philosophy awareness has grown that the disembodied approach in the understanding of critical thinking is, among many other things, co-responsible for the crisis that we face today. In response, we have launched a research project called Embodied Critical Thinking. It has attracted a growing and vibrant community of researchers and has won a European grant to become an interdisciplinary training-project in which several universities participate. In this webinar I introduced what we mean by Embodied Critical Thinking and what we do. I laid out the micro-phenomenological, pragmatist and radical listening methods we use and how this changes our understanding of criticality and good thinking. I also reflected on the struggles and questions we face in our pioneering project. Last but not least, I reflected on how embodied critical thinking builds a bridge between meditation and philosophy.

Donata Schoeller is a philosopher that has initiated the international research project Embodied Critical Thinking in 2018, together with the philosopher Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir. She now is the Academic Director of TECT (Training in Embodied Critical Thinking), an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership in Higher Education in which five European Universities participate. In the last years, she has been a guest professor at De Paul University in Chicago, a fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt, and currently is a guest professor at the University of Iceland as well as a senior lecturer at the University of Koblenz.

Among her recent publications is a monography on Close Talking: Erleben zu Sprache bringen, a volume on  Saying What We Mean, ed. with Ed Casey, a  co-edited volume on Nachdenklichkeit and a co-edited volume on Thinking Thinking. She has translated Eugene Gendlin’s philosophical main work A Process Model into German, together with Christiane Geiser, and has written a first introduction to this groundbreaking philosophical work. Her PhD on humility is published in the 2nd edition. She is an accredited Focusing-Trainer,  and also trained in Thinking-at-the-Edge by Prof. Eugene Gendlin and in Micro-phenomenology by Prof. Claire Petitmengin. She is an invited teacher of methods of Embodied Critical Thinking at institutes, academies and universities in Europe, the US and Israel. She has three grown up daughters. donataschoeller.com

Webinar: “The no-nonsense meditation book”
  • Date and time: Tuesday, May 25, at 18:00 CEST.
  • Prof. Dr. Steven Laureys, MLE Association Member, will introduce his new book “The no-nonsense meditation book” including his research into the effects of meditation and explanations about why you don’t have to be an expert to experience the life-changing benefits of meditation.
  • Topic of the webinar: The no-nonsense meditation book. Meditation is good for your brain and mind ? and anyone can do it: this is the basic philosophy of neurologist Dr Steven Laureys. With his team he has been researching the power of the mind for over 20 years. For his research into the effects of meditation, Laureys and colleagues (including mindfulness-pioneer Dr. Antoine Lutz) examined the brain of Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, and the results were remarkable. Matthieu was able to control his brain activity through meditation, and results showed beneficial effects regarding his brain function. However, you don’t have to be an expert to experience the life-changing benefits of meditation. In this webinar, Steven explores his own personal journey to meditation, from cynic to someone who now recommends the practice to his patients. Using science, he shows the effects of meditation on the brain and explains the benefits of a practice that many may find difficult or purely spiritual. Featuring brain-science, clinical studies, inspiring anecdotes and practical exercises and tips, as well as advice on the apps available, this highly accessible conference will explain to everyone that meditation can have a positive impact on all our lives.

Steven Laureys MD PhD FEAN is an award-winning neurologist and neuroscientist recognised worldwide as a leading clinician and researcher in the field of the neurology of consciousness. He is an active member of Mind and Life Europe and former president of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and has published over 500 scientific articles on the workings of the human mind. He is known for his studies on consciousness after coma but also on near-death experiences, anesthesia, dreaming, hypnosis and meditation.

Prof. Dr. Laureys is Research Director at the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (2012), founding director of the “GIGA Consciousness Research Unit” (2014) and “Coma Science Group” (2006) of the University of Liège and “Centre du Cerveau” at the University Hospital of Liège (2019) and visiting professor at CERVO Brain Research Centre in Canada (2021). He recently co-founded the Mind Care International Foundation and published the international bestseller “The no-nonsense meditation book” (Bloomsbury 2021) in collaboration with Matthieu Ricard.

Photo credit: Debby Termonia

Webinar: “Awareness-based Wellbeing in Schools: Empowering Educators”
  • Speaker: Kevin Hawkins author of Mindful Teacher, Mindful School, Improving Wellbeing in teaching and learning and The Mindful Teacher’s Toolkit – Awareness-based Wellbeing in Schoolsco-written with Amy Burke. 
  • Topic of the webinar: Awareness-based Wellbing in Schools: Empowering Educators. Do you want to help your students develop their social and emotional skills? Do you want to help build a whole school approach to mindfulness and wellbeing? In this webinar, Kevin Hawkins will discuss the topic of his new book The Mindful Teacher’s Toolkit – Awareness-based Wellbeing in Schools which will be published in Ocotber 2021. The Mindful Teacher’s Toolkit gives you clear directions to develop mindful practices and ideas for how to integrate these into your teaching. 

Kevin Hawkins has worked with adolescents and young people in various contexts for over 40 years – as a teacher, school head, and social worker in the UK, Africa, and Europe. For 10 years, he was Middle School Principal at the International School of Prague in the Czech Republic. He is a Senior Lead Trainer for the Mindfulness in Schools Project (UK) and has taught mindfulness to children, teenagers, teachers and parents since 2008. In 2012 he co-founded MindWell, which supports educational communities in developing wellbeing through mindfulness and social-emotional learning (SEL). He has been a lead consultant to the International Baccalaureate Organisation on SEL and mindfulness and he is a facilitator for the evidence-based CARE program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Educators). He is a regular speaker, writer and presenter on the topics of mindfulness, wellbeing and social-emotional learning in education. His first book on mindfulness in education, Mindful Teacher, Mindful School, Improving Wellbeing in teaching and learning, was published by SAGE in July 2017. His second book, The Mindful Teacher’s Toolkit – Awareness-based Wellbeing in Schools is co-written with Amy Burke and will be published in October 2021, also by SAGE/Corwin. Kevin trained in mindfulness in Europe and the USA with Mark Williams (Oxford Mindfulness Centre), Jon Kabat-Zinn, Saki Santorelli and Florence Meleo-Meyer (UMass Medical School, Centre for Mindfulness), and with Dr. Amy Saltzman (Still Quiet Place).

Webinar: “Implementing Mindfulness in Schools: An Evidence-Based Guide”

Topic of the webinar: Implementing Mindfulness in Schools: An Evidence-Based Guide

Prof. Katherine Weare introduced the core messages of the evidence based, ground-breaking, influential and authoritative guidance document on mindfulness in schools she has just co-written for the UK Mindfulness Initiative: Implementing Mindfulness in Schools: An Evidence-Based Guide

Jon Kabat Zinn has commented on the document with a Deep bow of appreciation for this incredible (elegant and balanced) piece of work

Her talk will:

  • Explore some of the current debates about what mindfulness is and is not in educational contexts, including some myths and barriers that are confusing the picture.
  • Establish the core principles that are often neglected in educational contexts. They include starting with the teachers and the whole setting and educational environment, not just focusing on students and the curriculum, and ensuring that mindfulness is seen not just as a ‘toolkit’ for coping and calm, but is about relating to the whole of our experience in a radically different, and embodied, way. 
  • Outline evidence from neuroscience and psychology on how mindfulness shapes the brain and neural systems, and thus cultivates core human competences such as meta-cognition, attention, compassion, a sense of agency, and self regulation – evidence that is proving helpful in convincing educators to see mindfulness as foundational to all their work. 
  • Sketch some real life examples of ways in which mindfulness is moving from being a ‘bolt on intervention’ to becoming foundational in educational practice and settings. 
  • Suggest that mindfulness, working with other fields, can help to transform traditional views of education as instrumental, individualised, competitive and about ‘mastering the world ‘ to shift to forms of education which place the cultivation of the inner person at the heart of the process. It will provide a vision of a pathway that offers hope to help education more fully and realistically address the urgent psycho-social and environmental crises and challenges that face humanity. 

Prof. Katherine Weare is a long time friend of MLE and board associated who has helped to form and shape the CCE. She is also co-lead for education for the UK ‘Mindfulness Initiative’, an internationally respected and influential think tank which works closely with MLE, including through the work of its director, Jamie Bristow. Katherine is known internationally for her work on well-being, social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education. She has published widely, reviewed the evidence base, advised the UK government, EU and WHO, and developed practical strategies in these fields across most European countries. Her recent best selling book, co-written with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Happy Teachers Change The World’ has been translated into many languages.

Webinar: “Implementation of Mindfulness and SEL Skills into Public Schools in Finland” & “Learning from the Religious and Ethical Critiques of Mindfulness in Public Schools”
  • Date and time: Tuesday, November 16, at 18:00 CET.
  • Speakers: Prof. Salla-Maarit Volanen and PhD student Ville Husgafvel

Topic of the webinar:

“Implementation of Mindfulness and SEL Skills into Public Schools in Finland”  “Learning from the Religious and Ethical Critiques of Mindfulness in Public Schools”

Finland is a Nordic country with a world-famous education system, and every Finnish teacher must have a Master’s degree to qualify. Surprisingly, our teacher education at universities neglect subjects such as well-being and SEL skills, even though these skills are included in our national curriculum and recognized as crucial for learning. The NPO Healthy Learning Mind initiative has offered teachers and leaders a continuing education by training them in mindfulness and SEL skills since 2016. Our experiences of this work during the last five years as well as our future plans will be discussed.  

“Learning from the Religious and Ethical Critiques of Mindfulness in Public Schools”

Despite the growing implementation of mindfulness-based practices in public schools, this development is also facing criticism on religious and ethical grounds. For some, it represents a camouflage tactic to introduce Buddhism into secular education. For others, it implies a denaturing of dharma practices and a loss of their transformative potential. How should the teachers and proponents of contemplative education tread the fine line between these concerns? 

Tiedon silta 20200818 Kuva Liisa Takala. Salla-Maarit Volanen. Helsinki.

Salla-Maarit Volanen (PhD), Folkhälsan Research Center and University of Helsinki (Faculty of Medicine, Dept of Public Health) is the leader of The Healthy Learning Mind Research Project exploring the effectiveness of mindfulness intervention programs among 12-15 year old students in school contexts for the first time in Finland. Funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the project was expanded to a development and teacher training project in 2016. As both a social and public health scientist, her passion is to create societally meaningful contributions and to use the evidence based research for the benefit of all. Accordingly, her team’s studies are located in a real-world setting (early childhood education and schools), and are closely linked to practices and the promotion of health.

Ville Husgafvel is a doctoral student in the Study of Religion at the University of Helsinki, a qualified subject teacher in Religious Education and Secular Ethics (basic education and general upper secondary education), and a trained MBSR instructor. His PhD dissertation is entitled: ‘Recontextualizing Mindfulness: The Selective Adaptation of Buddhist Meditation Practices in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme’. He has published in Contemporary BuddhismRoutledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies, and Temenos – Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion

Webinar: “Politics of Being: Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm”
  • Date and time: Thursday, December 2, at 18:00 CET.
  • Speaker: Thomas Legrand (PhD)

Topic of the webinar: 

Thomas Legrand gave a presentation, based on his forthcoming book, entitled “Politics of Being: Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm”:

What is a widsom-based or “spiritual” approach to politics? It would emphasize “being” (or fulfillment, flourishing, eudaimonia, etc.) instead of “having” as our main collective goal and means.

It would mean that societies would honor the highest values, some of which have become subjects of science in the last decades and are entering the political field: systemic and complex thinking (cf. interdependence), life, happiness, love or empathy, peace, mindfulness, etc. The Politics of Being taps into science to support the cultural evolution — as well as the human, social, and environmental regeneration — we need.

The Politics of Being provides an integral conceptual framework to accommodate all relevant claims and initiatives. It also identifies an agenda for action with clear priorities and actionable public policies in most sectors.  

Thomas Legrand holds a PhD in (Ecological) Economics and has studied international development, political science, and management. He works in the field of sustainability for UN agencies, companies, and NGOs, with a focus on forest conservation, climate change, sustainable finance, organizational transformation, and leadership. He currently works with UNDP on the Conscious Food Systems Alliance.

His spiritual journey began at the age of 23 with an encounter with native spirituality in Mexico, before embracing the widsom of a wide range of traditions and practices, including meditation, energetic healing, and Tai-chi-chuan. He lives with his wife and two young daughters near Plum Village, the monastery of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the Southwest of France, his native country.

His spiritual search, his thinking as a social scientist, and his professional experience have gradually converged on the importance of spiritual wisdom in humanity’s ongoing transition. Searching for a way to mainstream this understanding in the political and sustainability conversation, he has dedicated much of the last 10 years to researching and reflecting on how we can radically rethink our model of development. The result is his forthcoming book “Politics of Being. Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm” (to be released January 2022).

More information can be found here

Webinars in 2020

Webinar: “Meditation and Pain from the Lenses of Phenomenology and Neurosciences”
  • Date and time: Wednesday, May 27, at 18:00 CEST.
  • Dr. Antoine Lutz, MLE Association Member, talked about his current research on meditation and pain.
  • Topic of the webinar: Meditation and Pain from the Lenses of Phenomenology and Neurosciences. An early Buddhist account describes pain as being composed of two distinct ‘arrows’: an immediate physical sensation and an aversive dimension linked to negative mentation. It is claimed that although negative mentation often habitually follows awareness of unpleasant physical stimuli, this need not be necessarily so, as for individuals trained in mindfulness meditation, it is possible to uncouple sensory and affective pain dimensions, such that the physical component can be fully experienced without concomitant emotional distress. In this webinar, we will review clinical and experimental studies which have investigated the cognitive and neural mechanisms of pain regulation in mindfulness meditation.

Selected references:

  • Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B. A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., & Maglione, M. A. (2017). Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51(2), 199?213.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General Hospital Psychiatry, 4, 33?47.
  • Zorn, J, Abdoun, O, Bouet, R, Lutz, A. (2020). Mindfulness meditation is related to sensory-affective uncoupling of pain in trained novice and expert practitioners. Eur J Pain. 2020; 00: 1? 13.
  • Lutz, A., McFarlin, D. R., Perlman, D. M., Salomons, T. V., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli in expert meditators. NeuroImage64, 538?546.
  • Perlman, D. M., Salomons, T. V., Davidson, R. J., & Lutz, A. (2010). Differential effects on pain intensity and unpleasantness of two meditation practices. Emotion (Washington, D.C.)10(1), 65?71.

Antoine Lutz is a research director at INSERM in the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CNRL). He did his PhD in cognitive neurosciences in Paris, with F. Varela. During his postdoctoral work with R. Davidson, at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, he pioneered the neuroimaging study of meditation. In 2008, Davidson and him were awarded a NIH-NCCAM grant to fund the first American Center of Excellence on Research dedicated to neurophysiological study of meditation.

At the CRNL since 2013, his research group focuses on investigating the neurophysiological basis of mindfulness and compassion meditations and their impact on consciousness, attention and emotion regulations, and pain perception as measured by cognitive, affective and social neuroimaging paradigms using EEG, MEG, intra-cortical EEG, and fMRI. This research is funded by an European ERC consolidator grant (Brain&Mindfulness). He is a work package leader in a European research consortium investigating the impacts of meditation practices on ageing and well-being (Meditageing, H2020, PI G. Chételat). He participates to the ANR MindMadeClear (PI H. Mounier) on neurocomputation and meditation.

Webinar: “The Mindful Brain”
  • Date and time: Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 17:00 CEST.
  • Dr. Elena Antonova, MLE Association Member, talked about her research on the neuroscience of mindfulness.
  • Topic of the webinar: The Mindful Brain. In this talk, I will note the differences in the use of the term ‘mindfulness’ within Buddhism and in secular context, and then provide an overview of the main principles of how the brain’s dynamics change when we related to our experiences in a mindful way that we have learned from the fMRI research.

Selected references:

  • Antonova, E., Chadwick, P., Kumari, V. (2015). More meditation, less habituation: the effect of intensive mindfulness practice on the acoustic startle reflex. PLoS One, 10(5), e0123512
  • Buckner, R. L., Carroll, D. C. (2007). Self-projection and the brain. Trends Cogn Sci, 11, 49-57.
  • Dunne, J. (2011). Toward an understanding of non-dual mindfulness. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 71-88.
  • Farb, N. A., Segal, Z. V., Mayberg, H., Bean, J., McKeon, D., Fatima, Z., & Anderson, A. K. (2007). Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience2(4), 313-322.
  • Fox, M.D, Snyder, A. Z., Vincent, J. L., Corbetta, M., Van Essen, D. C., Raichle, M. E. (2005). The human brain is intrinsically organized into dynamic, anticorrelated functional networks. PNAS, 102 (27), 9673-9678.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice10(2), 144-156.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2011). Some reflections on the origins of MBSR, skilful means, and the trouble with maps. Contemporary Buddhism, vol 12 (1), 281-206.
  • Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences12(4), 163-169.

Elena Antonova is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Brunel University London, which she joined in June 2019. Prior to that she was a lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London (KCL), where she remains a Visiting Researcher. Elena lectures on the neuroscience and clinical applications of mindfulness. Her research focuses on the effects of long-term mindfulness practice using neuroimaging and psychophysiology methods, with the application to the prevention and management of psychopathologies.

She has been actively involved with the Mind and Life Institute since 2011 and Mind & Life Europe since 2013, organisations catalysing inter-disciplinary scientific research into the effects of contemplative practices. She was elected a Mind & Life Research Fellow for her contribution to contemplative science in 2017. Elena is an experienced mindfulness instructor (MBCT) trained in line with the Good Practice Guidelines in the UK. Elena has had a personal mindfulness meditation practice since 1998 and has attended numerous meditation retreats since 2001. http://qwww.brunel.ac.uk/people/elena-antonova

>> Back to: MLE Friends EVENTS.

Webinar: “The Power of Compassion – Lessons from the Resource Project”
  • Date and time: Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 18:30 CEST.
  • Prof. Dr. Tania Singer, MLE Honorary Board Member, talked about her research on the power compassion based on the ReSource Project.
  • Topic of the webinar: The Power of Compassion – Lessons from the Resource Project. In this webinar I will talk about compassion and how to cultivate it. I will introduce the ReSource project, a large-scale interdisciplinary one-year meditation-based mental training project that aimed at the cultivation of 1) attention and interoceptive awareness, 2) meta-cognition and perspective taking on self and others, and 3) empathy, compassion and prosocial motivation by means of three distinct training modules in more than 200 training subjects. I will present specific findings showing that indeed you can cultivate human qualities such as compassion, altruism and prosocial behavior and even induce structural brain plasticity, when engaging daily for about 30 minutes in different types of mental practices. I will discuss these findings in terms of their relevance for different arms of society.

References: please click here for an overview of publications.

Tania Singer is the scientific head of the Social Neuroscience Lab of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany. After doing her PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, she became a Post-doctoral Fellow at the same institution, at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London. In 2006, she first became Assistant Professor and later Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics as well as Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zurich. Between 2010 and 2018 Tania Singer was the director of the department of Social Neurosciences at the Max Planck Institute of Cognitive and Human Development in Leipzig.

Her research focus is on the hormonal, neuronal, and developmental basis of human sociality, empathy and compassion, and their malleability through mental training. She is the principal investigator of a large-scale, nine-month longitudinal meditation based mental training study, The ReSource Project, and investigates together with Dennis Snower how psychology can inform new models of Caring Economics. Tania Singer is author of more than 150 scientific articles and book chapters and edited together with Mathieu Ricard the two books Caring Economics (2015) and Power and Care (2019).

>> Back to: MLE Friends EVENTS.

Webinar: The Subtle Mind: Essence and Interdependence
  • Date and time: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 17:30 CEST.
  • Diego Hangartner, Pharm.D., PCC, MLE Association Member, talked about and introduce practical tools for improving meditation, linking those practices to the framework of twelve interdependent links.
  • Topic of the webinar: The Subtle Mind: Essence and InterdependenceThe Buddhist tradition has developed a wide range of practices and technologies to explore the mind and to cultivate healthy qualities of the mind such as wisdom, focus and compassion. Furthermore, the Buddhist lineages have created a huge body of philosophical, epistemological and methodological frameworks to explain the workings of the mind. In my presentations I will provide practical tools for improving meditation, linking those practices to the framework of the twelve interdependent links – a key explanation of why ignorance lies at the root of an untrained mind, in turn leading to suffering, delusions, concepts, clinging and aversion. I will also provide a framework for the reasons why Buddhist philosophy and practice speaks of different levels of mind – even the possibility of more subtle aspects that are not limited to biological functions.

Selected references

  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama,  Universe in a Single Atom, p.97George Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, Dharmakirti?s Philosophy, 1997.
  • Longchen Rabjam, Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind, Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group, 2018.
  • Bodhisattvabhumi Sastra.
  • Mipham, Gateway of Knowledge, Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, 2002.
  • Dignaga, Pramana-Samuccaya, 5th CE.
  • Dharmakirti, Pramanavartika, in: Foundations of Dharmakirti?s philosophy, J.Dunne, 2004.
  • Samyukta-Agama, found in: Bhikkhu Analayo, Mindfully Facing Sickness and Death, 2017.
  • Mahaniddana-Sutta, found in: Bhikkhu Analayo, Rebirth, 2018.

Diego Hangartner, Switzerland

Diego Hangartner, Pharm.D., PCC [b. 1962] completed his studies in pharmacology at the ETHZurich, specializing in psycho-pharmacology and addiction. His main interest is to understand what constitutes a healthy mind, and how to cultivate it. He lived for 11 years in Dharamsala, India, learned Tibetan, and studied for 7 years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. He completed several retreats, worked as an interpreter, translating Tibetan into many languages, and published a few books. On returning to Europe in 2003, he taught widely, and organized several large events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and participated in research aimed at exploring the benefits of meditation as a long-term practitioner. Collaborations with many universities and research institutes, such as the Max Planck Institute, EPFL, Universities of Zurich, Lyon, Madison, USA, etc.

Diego is associated and worked with the Mind and Life Institute since the 1990’s: he was Mind and Life’s COO from 2009 – 2012 in the USA. In 2008, he co-founded Mind & Life Europe and was its director until 2015. Diego founded the Institute of Mental Balance and Universal Ethics (IMBUE), an interdisciplinary initiative, to develop and provide tools and programs that foster mental balance. He created and teaches “The Wheel of Mental Balance”, a methodology to cultivate a healthy and resilient mind. Diego is also a professional certified coach (PCC), working with individuals, leaders and teams with a special focus on flourishing and development through a process of structure and discovery – insight generation, unfolding and forwarding action. For more information: www.diegohangartner.org

Webinar: Rainbow Body and Resurrection
  • Date and time: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 18:00 CEST.
  • Father Francis, MLE Association Member, talked about the Tibetan rainbow body attainment and bodily resurrection.
  • Topic of the webinar: Rainbow Body and Resurrection. The research project on the Tibetan rainbow body attainment and the doctrine of bodily resurrection has given me an opportunity to reflect on the importance of contemplative practice for the human species. In subsequent research, it has been fruitful to explore the human future in the light of what has already been learned about bodily and spiritual transformation.  Some authors have proposed that artificial intelligence may offer a way forward in human evolution, but there are others who raise objections to this on moral or technological grounds. Our discoveries about human transformation through contemplative disciplines may open a way to reconcile a diversity of views, motivated by a deep sense of respect for the unfolding of the universe that is our home.
Father Francis Tiso in Washington Jan. 29, 2009. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Father Francis Tiso, Italy

A New York native, Father Francis Tiso holds the A.B. in Medieval Studies from Cornell University.  He earned a Master of Divinity degree (cum laude) at Harvard University and holds a doctorate from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary where his specialization was Buddhist studies. He translated several early biographies of the Tibetan yogi and poet, Milarepa, for his dissertation on sanctity in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. He has led research expeditions in South Asia, Tibet and the Far East, and his teaching interests include Christian theology, history of religions, spirituality, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. 

Father Tiso was Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2004 to 2009, where he served as liaison to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Sikhs, and the Reformed (Calvinist) Churches. Since 1988, Father Tiso is a priest of the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro, Italy, where he now serves as chaplain to the migrant communities in the Province of Isernia. He is President and Founder of the Association ?Archbishop Ettore Di Filippo?, which serves migrant and vulnerable populations in the Province of Isernia. He was Diocesan Delegate for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs from 1990 to 1998 (re-appointed in 2016) and rector of the Istituto Diocesano delle Scienze Religiose (1990-93).

Father Tiso is the author of Liberation in One Lifetime (2014) and Rainbow Body and Resurrection (2016), two books on Tibetan and inter-cultural studies. He is the recipient of grants from the American Academy of Religion, the American Philosophical Society, the Palmers Fund in Switzerland, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, CA. He has served on the faculty of two MLE summer seminars in Germany.

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