top of page

Mind & Life International Symposium with the Dalai Lama

By Christine Mason

Have you ever attended a conference and felt as if you had been transported to another world? In my search to learn more about mindfulness and contemplation from perspectives that may vary somewhat from my yogic training, I have undertaken a series of activities this past year. Reading, teaching, talking, trying new meditations, and last month attending the Mind & Life International Symposium for Contemplative Studies which was held in Boston.  Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy, one of CEI’s Research Associates, was able to join me at the conference and together we tried to cover as many sessions as possible, often comparing what we were hearing to our own Heart Centered Education.

Michele and I found ourselves surrounded by others who were thrilled to be learning more about the value of contemplative practices. When not in sessions, we were dialoguing almost continuously with neuroscientists, educators, psychologists, researchers, health care and social workers, and monks from around the globe. This year 1500 attended the conference; two years ago the number was about half. There were many highlights to this meeting.

The keynote conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama was one of main features. For this forum, the Dalai Lama was presented with questions from two distinguished neuoroscientists (Dr. Richard Davidson and Dr. Amisha Jai). Together they  reflected on the value and benefits of the ongoing 25-year dialogue between Buddhists and scientists. Essentially His Holiness said, “keep going, keep it up.”  While CEI enthusiastically embraces the benefits of neuroscience, we realize that many, many educators have not yet discovered its value and others are reticent to introduce neuroscience in their classrooms– I believe often these educators feel bound to their duties to teach academic skills and are so stressed that they don’t have time to learn about neuroscience or they don’t know how to pick or chose,

or where to begin.  So at this conference, with neuroscientists presenting data from brain scans and many presentations of the results of using neuroscience with children and adults,  it was almost like being transported 30-50 years into the future.  At the same time, we were surrounded with reminders of ancient Tibetan practices.  And we were treated to considering the secular and the spiritual; the science and the mysticism.  All in all a rather “holistic” way of trying to make sense out of experience, a rather holistic way to consider 21st Century knowledge and needs.



bottom of page