Amy Cohen Varela
Amy Cohen Varela is Chairperson of the Mind & Life Europe Board and involved with Mind and Life since its inception. She is also a clinical psychologist specialized in psychodynamic therapy and philosophy. Amy studied comparative literature at Brown and Columbia Universities before moving to Paris in the early ’80s, where she received her degree in clinical psychology at the University of Paris 7, with a specialty in psychodynamic theory and practice, and in parallel, completed psychoanalytic training.
Martijn van Beek
Martijn van Beek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated with the Interacting Minds Centre, both at Aarhus University, Denmark. Having worked and conducted research for many years on politics and development in Ladakh and elsewhere in the Himalayan region, for the past two decades his research has increasingly focused on the meeting ground between contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism, consciousness research, and modernity. His research seeks to contribute to refining our understanding and the significance of emergent forms of contemplative ways of living for people and for the planet. He is also engaged in research on the (micro-)phenomenology of contemplative practice and experience. Martijn teaches sustainable ways of living and contemplative life in context, in theory, and in practice at Aarhus University and elsewhere. He lives at Vaekstcenter, a contemplative community in Denmark.
Leslie de Galbert
Leslie de Galbert, B.A. in Philosophy, Hollins University; D.E.S.S. in Clinical Psychology, University of Paris. 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 the IAAP, she supervised the training of psychoanalysts in Tbilisi, Georgia.
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.
Gábor Karsai, based near Budapest, Hungary, is a long-standing member of the MLE Association, and presently serves as Rector of the Dharma Gate Buddhist College in Budapest, as well as Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Gabor has undertaken Ph.D studies with a focus on process philosophy (A. N. Whitehead), phenomenology and Buddhism. Over the last 15 years, he has had extensive management engagements, including as a deputy CEO at Bankar Holding Plc. (Hungary), Director of the Spirit of Humanity Forum (Iceland), the Education for Peace Foundation (Switzerland) and as CEO at the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (Taiwan). He combines practical experience in running a not for profit organisation together with a deep appreciation for contemplative practice and science as well as the values and vision which MLE embodies.
Erick Rinner, a Luxembourger based in Lausanne, has a 29-year experience in private equity and corporate governance. He is the managing partner of his own investment firm, Milestone Investisseurs, and he is a board member and a senior trainer with Potential Project, the global training company in corporate-based mindfulness programs. Erick’s core skills include initiating change at board level, negotiation, advising management teams on value creation and leadership. He sits on the board of private companies and trusts in Luxembourg, London, Denmark and Switzerland. Erick has had a daily mindfulness practice for 13 years and is regularly in silent retreat. He received his MBA from Columbia Business School in New York (Award for Excellence) and is an executive coach. He teaches at University of Strasbourg in the Medicine, Meditation and Neurosciences program and is also a registered mindfulness teacher (MBSR). Erick gives all his mindfulness training fees to Karuna-Shechen and Global Nomads in Tibet.
Andreas Roepstorff is a professor in cognition, communication, and culture and at the department of Culture and Society and the department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, Denmark. In April 2022, Professor Roepstorff was appointed to the position of head of the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University. In this role, he is responsible for continuing the process of positive development within the school. On an academic level, Professor Roepstorff works at the interface between anthropology, cognitive science and neuroscience, and is equally interested in the workings of the mind and brain, and in how cognitive science and brain imaging, as fields of knowledge production, relate to other scientific and public fields. He has formal training in social anthropology and in neurobiology and has published both within these disciplines as well as in various collaborations across other fields. He is the director of the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University and is involved in a number of transdisciplinary collaborations, focusing on aspects of human interaction. He has a long-standing research interest in cognitive aspects of contemplative practices.
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.
Father Francis Tiso
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).
Marieke van Vugt
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. https://mindbrainmindfulness.wordpress.com/
Roshi Joan Halifax
Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, anthropologist and author. She is co-founder of the Mind & Life Institute, founded the Ojai Foundation, the Prajna Mountain Buddhist Order, is Abbot and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center, and co-founder of the Zen Peacemaker Order. She is a pioneer in the end-of-life care field, and is well known internationally for her work in engaged Buddhism. She was an Honorary Research Fellow at Harvard University and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.
Charles-Antoine Janssen is Managing Partner of KOIS INVEST, as well as a Board Member of UCB s.a. and Tubize s.a. He worked in several senior management positions with UCB in Brussels, Austria, India and emerging markets, inter alia as Head of Global Business Development. Charles-Antoine also worked with Merril Lynch in London, where he served as Vice President for European Equities Research and Strategic Solutions Group. Additionally, he has co-founded Toolbox and Toolbox India, a non-profit organisation that provides management services to NGOs. Charles-Antoine teaches social entrepreneurship at Brussels University (ULB). He holds a bachelor degree in Law from ULB and an AMP from Harvard Business School.
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. He received a PhD in Cellular Genetics at the Institut Pasteur in France under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob. He has lived in the Himalayas since 1972, studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, two respected Tibetan spiritual masters. Since 1989, he has served as French interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the author of The Monk and the Philosopher, The Quantum and the Lotus, Happiness, A guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill and Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World. He has translated several books from Tibetan, including The Life of Shabkar and The Heart of Compassion. He donates all the proceeds from his books and much of his time to 140 humanitarian projects in Tibet, Nepal and India, through his charitable association Karuna-Shechen.
Tania Singer is the Scientific Head of the Social Neuroscience Lab at Max Planck Society in Berlin. After receiving her PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, she became a Post-doctoral Fellow at the same institution. In 2006, she became an Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich and later became Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research. Her research focuses on the foundations of human social behavior and on the neuronal, developmental, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social cognition and emotions. She investigates the psychological and neuroscientific effects of compassion and mental training on the brain, the mind, health, and cooperation, in longitudinal studies (The ReSource Project).
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolf Singer studied Medicine in Munich and Paris, obtained his MD from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and his PhD from the Technical University in Munich. He is Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and Founding Director both of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in cooperation with Max Planck Society. His research focuses on the neuronal substrate of higher cognitive functions, in particular on the question of how the distributed sub-processes in the brain are coordinated and bound together in order to give rise to coherent perception and action.
Gabor Karsai – Managing Director
Gabor Karsai, based near Budapest, Hungary, is a long-standing member of the MLE Association, and presently serves as Rector of the Dharma Gate Buddhist College in Budapest, as well as Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Gabor has undertaken Ph.D studies with a focus on process philosophy (A. N. Whitehead), phenomenology and Buddhism. Over the last 15 years, he has had extensive management engagements, including as a deputy CEO at Bankar Holding Plc. (Hungary), Director of the Spirit of Humanity Forum (Iceland), the Education for Peace Foundation (Switzerland) and as CEO at the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (Taiwan). He combines practical experience in running a not for profit organisation together with a deep appreciation for contemplative practice and science as well as the values and vision which MLE embodies.
Johanna Magin – Community and Programs Manager
Originally American and based in Paris, Johanna holds a PhD in French literature from Columbia University (New York) and a BA in French from the University of Chicago. Her research has focused on the medico-philosophical practices of several early-modern French authors in an attempt to understand the relationship between mind and body, and more broadly between science and spirituality, in that time period. Always keen to understand mind-body processes from an experiential perspective, she has also practiced Buddhism intensively since 2008 (Zen and Dzogchen), practiced improvisational dance and theatre since 2009, and is currently training to become a Rosen Method bodywork therapist. Before joining MLE, she worked as an academic program manager and adjunct faculty member at Sciences Po in France, where she taught on a wide number of subjects, from philosophy as a way of life to the politics of poetry.
Meijia Ling – Communications & Events Manager
Mei’s personal mission is inner and outer healing individually and collectively. She is founder of Intrinsic Wellness, which is a platform for helping people embody the wisdom of ancient philosophies, and she teaches Qi Gong and Mindfulness Meditation online and locally at the Bhakti Centre. She has a broad range of working experience, ranging from local government finance, international development fidiciary risk, to sitting on the Board of a tropical tree planting charity, TreeSisters, as a trustee. She has a degree in Sanskrit and Pali from the University of Oxford and a diploma in Acupuncture from the Integrated College of Chinese Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys include playing with her forever puppy, hiking amongst the hills of Somerset, improvising on the piano and creative writing.
Derek Sola – Executive Assistant
Derek Sola provides administrative support for the Managing Director of Mind & Life Europe, and MLE as a whole. He is a dedicated practitioner, reader, and translator of the early Buddhist teachings, with an MA in Buddhist Studies. Alongside his work for Mind & Life Europe, he is also active in a supporting role for various Buddhist organisations.
Eugène Sandoz – Media Lead
Based in Marseille, France, Eugène provides insight into the Media world, particularly on radio. He’s a radio journalist addicted to podcasts and worked for a bunch of media such as Euradio, France Culture, and LCP-AN. Fascinated by the Human Mind, MLE’s work resonated strongly with the Ph.D. he will soon begin on the power of imagination. He discovered meditation while writing he’s master thesis and hasn’t let go of the practice ever since. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys going swimming, as it’s the best way he has found to free his mind.
Over the last 12 years, Luciana has coordinated a wide range of projects and initiatives in the fields of mental health, education, and science communication, collaborating with public, private and international organizations. She has been living and working on different continents, developing her research and communication skills in multiple cultural environments. She holds a law degree from the University of Turin (Italy) and she recently earned a MSc in Cognitive Science at the University College Dublin (Ireland). Her willingness to explore the relationship between knower and known and, consequently, understandings of personhood, individuals and collectivities, led her to Fred Cummins’s body of work on joint speech (chant), with whom she has collaborated on observing unison speech practices in educational settings.
Annabelle Mielitz, based in Germany, has a B.Sc. in psychology, is currently finishing her M.Sc. in psychology and is working as a research asisstant in the medical faculty of Bielefeld University. She is just about to receive her certificate for being a Certified Professional for Positive Psychology (certified by the German Society of Positive Psychology) – the field of psychology where she specializes in. In her free time she deepens her knowledge about ancient wisdom from buddhism and other traditions and enjoys to practice meditation. She is volunteering for the MLE as it‘s values, goals and actions are very close to her heart and she wants to contribute to the mission of promoting human and societal flourishing.
Henok became interested in the interface between psychology, spirituality and wellbeing during his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida. After graduating with a BSc in Psychology and Religion, he worked at UF’s Mindfulness Program, volunteered for mental health charities and became a licensed massage therapist. Originally from Ethiopia and now based in London, he is currently completing a MSc in Social Cognition at UCL. He enjoys learning about meditation both in an experiential manner through his personal practice, and theoretically through Buddhist, cognitive and neuroscientific perspectives. He is particularly curious about the impact of meditative practices on domains such as attention, metacognition, interoception and self-regulation; and hopes to one day contribute to research in the field of contemplative science.
MLE Association Members (partial list)
All members of the MLE Board and MLE Honorary Board are also members of the association.
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’s 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, and was elected a Mind and Life Research Fellow for her contribution to contemplative science in 2017. Elena has had a personal meditation practice since 1998 and has attended numerous meditation retreats since 2001, mainly studying and practicing Dzogchen approach.
Trained as a biologist in toxicology and pharmacology, Catherine Bastien-Ventura worked as a research engineer at the national center for scientific research (CNRS) in Paris, France. After 10 years of research in the field of cancerology (Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif), she has been teaching and managing research projects in the field of environment and sustainable development for public sector and private companies (Rhodia, Schneider Electric, Hutchinson).
Research project manager for the French Ministry of Environment, within the research and foresight department, she was in charge of programs dealing with different types of pollution and their consequences on ecosystems. After this position for almost ten years, at the interface of research and public policies, she joined the headquarter of CNRS, working for the Institute devoted to environment and sustainable development where she has been in charge of a cooperation program with China on environmental issues. Meanwhile, she also was the project manager for the Frontiers of Sciences programs with Japan and Taiwan.
During the last years she was the international cooperation officer for French research networks dealing with area studies throughout Asia, Africa, Middle East and Muslim World.
She recently developed a strategy and development consulting activity for basic research and international cooperation.
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.
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.
Dr. Laura Candiotto is Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Centre for Ethics of the University of Pardubice, Czech Republic. Originally from Italy, she moved to Scotland, France, and Germany in the last seven years for carrying out different research projects on the philosophy of emotions. Her research focuses on the epistemic role of emotions as embedded in dialogical interactions and communities of inquiry. She has extensively worked on love, wonder, compassion, and shame bridging her expertise in the Socratic method of inquiry and the enactive approach to participatory sense-making. She also published on the ethics of knowing with a virtue theoretical approach to epistemic responsibility. She is now exploring the enactive and pragmatist approaches to human sensibility and shared sentience. She is also contributing to the development of an enactive ethics of sense-making grounded on affects as what disclose existential concerns and values, especially regarding environmental issues. As a Tibetan Buddhism practitioner, she has a long-standing interest in the transformation of negative emotions, the intertwining of compassion and wisdom, and the role of desire, aspiration, devotion, and embodiment in contemplative practices. Websites: www.emotionsfirst.org; https://upce.academia.edu/LauraCandiotto
Associate Professor Amber D Carpenter works in ancient Greek and classical Indian philosophy, with a topical focus on the metaphysics, epistemology and moral psychology underpinning Plato’s ethics and Indian Buddhist ethics.
While publishing on each of these areas of specialisation separately, her work increasingly brings Greek and Indian Buddhist philosophy together around topics at the intersection of metaphysics, mind, epistemology and ethics. She is also interested in contemporary relevance of ancient views, as well as interdisciplinary work, as in her collaboration on the Integrity Project.
She has taught or held visiting research appointments at the University of York, St Andrews, Cornell, Oxford, the University of Melbourne and Yale University.
Assoc Prof Carpenter recently held a fellowship with The Beacon Project, exploring ‘Ethical Ambitions and their Formation of Character’ in Plato and in Buddhist thought, and is currently running an international grant-funded project on Buddhist-Platonism.
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.
Hanne De Jaegher
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 Skodowska-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.
John Dunne (PhD 1999, Harvard University) is the Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he serves as Core Faculty for the Center for Healthy Minds and as the chair of the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures. John Dunne’s work focuses on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, especially in dialog with Cognitive Science and Psychology. His publications appear in venues ranging across both the Humanities and the Sciences, and they include works on Buddhist philosophy, contemplative practices and their empirical examination and interpretation within scientific contexts.
John Dunne speaks in both academic and public contexts, and he occasionally teaches for Buddhist communities. His broader engagements include being a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, where he was previously a member of the Board of Directors, and serving as an academic advisor to the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Valentine Goblet d’Alviella
Valentine Goblet d’Alviella is the founder of a yoga & meditation shala “shanti home” in Brussels. She is a certified yoga and meditation teacher and energetic healer with a mission to serve and host retreats/circles for reconnection to our true nature and to Earth. She has followed and supported the work of Mind & Life Europe since its establishment.
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). https://www.brown.edu/public-health/mindfulness/teacher-training/mbsr-teacher-recognition
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.
Diego Hangartner, Pharm.D., PCC [b. 1962] completed his studies in pharmacology at the ETH Zurich, 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
Barry Hershey is a filmmaker who has written and directed eight films. He has been involved in various capacities in two dozen other films, including as executive producer of The Dalai Lama—Scientist. Most recently, he has produced the documentary film, Climate Emergencies: Feedback Loops, as well as the one-hour broadcast film Earth Emergency. He received his MFA from USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is currently working on a fiction script, Shadowpoem. For over 30 years, he has been involved with the Mind & Life Institute and joined its board in 2012.
Perla Kaliman holds a PhD in Biochemistry. She is a honorary fellow at the Center for Healthy Minds (University of Wisconsin Madison), exploring the gene expression and epigenetic impact of meditation practice. She is an associate professor in Nutrition and Public Health at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, where she teaches nutrigenomics. She collaborates with the NGO “Innocence in Danger Colombia” (IIDC), exploring the psychological and epigenetic benefits of a program to heal trauma in adolescents with a
history of multiple adverse childhood experiences. She has published numerous scientific articles, she co-edited the book Epigenetics of Lifestyle (Bentham eBooks). She is the author of a neuroscience- cooking book on food for brain health with the chef Miguel Aguilar (Cocina para tu Mente, 2014, Ed. Blume, Barcelona) and “La ciencia de la meditación: de la mente a los genes” (2017, ed. Kairos, Barcelona).
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
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.
Ven. Gendun Losang is a Dutch buddhist monk, resident teacher of the Maitreya Institute, Amsterdam and visiting teacher of Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds, UK, Garuda, Monaco and One-Dharma, Portugal. Having been ordained in 2006, he studied Buddhist philosophy and psychology at the Nalanda Monastery France, after which he spent over four years in solitary retreat in both Tibetan Gelug and Theravada monasteries in France, Nepal, and Burma.
He is currently developing a platform for the long-term support of Western meditators, The Buddha Project, that combines traditional methods and contemporary theory, in collaboration with Nicolas Pellerin, a researcher from Toulouse University, aiming to investigate perceptional and semiotic evolution in long-term meditators. He is active in interreligious dialogue and practice, working together with Benedictine monastic communities and a Turkish Mevlevi Dargah.
Astrid Lunkes is currently Director of Scientific Portfolio Management and Strategy at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich. She is responsible for the strategic development of epigenetics and its research impact in society. During her PhD in Germany and a postdoc time in France, Astrid researched the causes of neurodegenerative diseases. She has held key positions in science management, strategy development and science policy. Since 2019 she is a certified MBSR Instructor and Mediator.
Dr. Antoine Lutz is currently a director of research at the French Medical Research Institute (INSERM) in the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CNRL) where he co-leads the Experiential Neuroscience and Mental Training Team (EDUWELL). After a Master degree in engineering and a BA in philosophy at the Sorbonne under the direction of Natalie Depraz, he did his PhD in cognitive neurosciences in Paris, France, with Francisco Varela where he applied for the first time his neurophenomenology program to study the neural correlates of attention and perception. Since 1998, he has studied meditation with various teachers including Mingyur Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Matthieu Ricard and Joseph Goldstein.
During his postdoctoral work with Richard Davidson, at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, he used neuroimaging techniques to study meditation practices such as mindfulness or compassion meditations in both expert meditators and novice meditators. The latter were taught to meditate using the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR). In 2008, Richard Davidson and him were awarded a NIH-NCCAM grant to fund in Madison the first American Center of Excellence on Research dedicated to neurophysiological study of meditation practices. After working for ten years in the US as a research scientist, he joined the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France in January 2013. His current research group focuses on the neurophenomenology of mindfulness and compassion meditations and on the impact of these practices 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 currently funded by a European ERC consolidator grant (Brain&Mindfulness, 2014-2021).
He is also currently collaborating to a European research consortium investigating the impacts of meditation practices on ageing and well-being as measured by brain imaging (PET, IRMf, DTI, EEG), biomarkers of ageing, and psycho-affective and cognitive behavioural measures (Meditageing, H2020, 2016-2021, study coordinated by Gaël Chételat, INSERM Caen, https://silversantestudy.fr). He recently started a collaboration investigating the neurocomputational principles of meditation (ANR MindMadeClear, coordinated by Hugues Mounier, CNRS).
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 (in Dutch) on mindfulness and Buddhism. He is currently translating the Dharma talks he has given over the years into English and publishing them on Substack.
Delphine started her career as a psychologist and from then on continued dedicating her life to understanding more about human behavior.
After several years of working with patients in her clinic, she had the opportunity to move to Brazil where she co-founded a training center within a hospital supported by the health ministry. This project was linked to another hospital she worked with in Bhutan.
In recent years, she has focused mainly on improving communication, values, and internal processes in NGO’s.
Delphine’s first contact with Mind & Life was in Dharamsala in 2006. She has followed the process of the creation of Mind and Life Europe and its work since the beginning.
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.
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.
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.
Cornelius Pietzner has served Mind & Life Europe on the Board of Directors for many years and formerly also as Co Director. He has served as Chief Executive Officer of Alterra Impact Finance GmbH, an impact investment firm in Switzerland. He is President of the Alterra Foundation, a Swiss charitable foundation that supports transformation initiatives related to a human-centered economy.
He was Chief Financial Officer on the Executive Board at the Goetheanum, General Anthroposophical Society, Switzerland with affiliates in 90 countries. He has had leading roles in social impact enterprises, financial management, philanthropy and investments. Cornelius Pietzner serves as Trustee/Advisory Board on a number of organisations and foundations in the USA and Europe. He received his degree in Political Science from Williams College, Mass. and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.
Antonino Raffone completed a Master in “Psychology” and a Doctorate in “Cognitive Psychology and Science” at Sapienza University of Rome. He is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology of Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), and Visiting Professor and Advisory Faculty 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, with a particular focus on cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and meditation. Finally, he is a dedicated Soto Zen practitioner.
In his approach to teaching meditation, Mingyur Rinpoche integrates traditional Buddhist practice and philosophy with the current scientific understanding of the mind and mental health – making the practice of mediation relevant and accessible to students around the world.
Born in Nepal in 1975, Mingyur Rinpoche began to study meditation as a young boy with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, himself a well-respected Buddhist teacher. He spent many years of his childhood in strict retreat and completed the traditional Buddhist training in philosophy and psychology. In addition to extensive training in the meditative and philosophical traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Mingyur Rinpoche has also had a lifelong interest in Western science and psychology, which has led to many fruitful collaborations with neuroscientists and psychologists.
Mingyur Rinpoche is the author of the best-selling book The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, as well as Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, Turning Confusion into Clarity: A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism, and In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying.
For over 25 years Tsoknyi Rinpoche has been teaching students worldwide about the innermost nature of mind in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Born into a family respected for its spiritual attainments, he was identified while still a small child as the third Tsoknyi Rinpoche and given the special education and upbringing of a tulku, or reincarnate lama. His teachers include some of the most renowned masters of Tibet. Widely recognized as an outstanding meditation teacher, he is the author of three books: Open Heart Open Mind, Carefree Dignity, and Fearless Simplicity. Tsoknyi Rinpoche teaches worldwide at more than 50 retreat centers for monks and nuns who follow his spiritual direction. His most current humanitarian project is completing a large school for impoverished young girls in Nepal with both Western and traditional buddhist educational curriculums. His personal warmth, humor and compassionate attention greatly enrich and enliven his teaching.
His fresh insights into the western psyche have enabled him to teach and write in a way that touches our most profound awareness, using metaphors, stories and images that point directly to our everyday experience.
Sander Tideman, LL.M., is specialized in developing societal- and sustainability oriented leadership in organizations. He has been studying contemplative traditions and practices for 30 years, integrating the insights gained from this into his work as a management professional, consultant and researcher.
He serves on the faculty of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) in the Netherlands. He authored several books and articles, including ‘Mind over Matter; Towards a New Paradigm for Leadership in Business and Economics’ (2007) and ‘Business as Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with H.H. the Dalai Lama‘ (Greenleaf 2016).
Sander received education in International Law (Utrecht University), Asian Affairs (London School of Oriental and African Studies), International Economic Law (London School of Economics) and Chinese language and culture (Taiwan National Normal University). He later studied various approaches to psychology, organizational dynamics and leadership. Since encountering Buddhism while travelling in the Himalayas in 1982, he has studied under Buddhist teachers in Nepal, Tibet and India.
Sander is a previous Managing Director of Mind & Life Europe.
Christian Thalhammer is chairman of the Supervisory Board and partner in AKRON Group, a European wide Real Estate company, which he founded and managed for almost 20 years. Since he retired as CEO he is occasionally giving leadership classes in the context of mindfulness for managers of multinational companies and organizations (Kalapa Academy, Cologne). After his studies at the Technical University in Vienna (MBA in chemical engineering, research on environmental issues) Christian worked in several management positions in the government, politics and multinational companies. Christian has long term experience in various forms of meditation and has been active as meditation teacher since 1984.
Trained in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, Fynn-Mathis Trautwein investigates mental processes underlying attention, social cognition and the sense of self. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Medical Center – University of Freiburg. In his research he is committed to the idea that a valid and meaningful understanding of the mind requires a strong link to lived experience. Hence he combines first-person approaches, including contemplative investigation and microphenomenology, with behavioral and neurophysiological methods such as EEG, MEG and fMRI. Previous training and research positions were at the University of Haifa and at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Mathis is also a practitioner of mindfulness meditation, MBSR teacher and currently completes a training in systemic psychotherapy.
Sebastjan Vörös is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy (University of Ljubljana). In 2008, he graduated in English Language and Literature, and Philosophy (double-major study programme), and in 2015 he graduated in History. From 2010 to 2013, he was employed as a Junior Researcher at the University of Ljubljana, where he successfully defended his doctoral thesis, which was later published in a book form (The Images of the Unimaginable: (Neuro)Science, Phenomenology, Mysticism). His main areas of research include philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of religion, phenomenology, and radical constructivism.
Katherine Weare is Professor at University of Exeter where she directs the MSc in Mindfulness and the Principal Investigator for the MLE Community of Contemplative Education (CCE) Initiative.
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‘ is being translated into 10 languages. Katherine is a Mind & Life Europe Association member.
HolgerYeshe has been practising meditation since 1999. He has been a student of Mingyur Rinpoche since 2005. He was ordained as a monk in 2010 and has been primarily focusing on studying the Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy. He has been a co-leader of Tergar groups in Nepal, Germany, and Dharamsala, India. After living abroad for 17 years, Holger Yeshe is back in Germany to support the Tergar community there.