The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation

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Overview

By inviting the Dalai Lama and leading researchers in medicine, psychology, and neuroscience to join in conversation, the Mind & Life Institute set the stage for a fascinating exploration of the healing potential of the human mind. The Mind’s Own Physician presents in its entirety the thirteenth Mind and Life dialogue, a discussion addressing a range of vital questions concerning the science and clinical applications of meditation: How do meditative practices influence pain and human suffering? What role does...

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The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation

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Overview

By inviting the Dalai Lama and leading researchers in medicine, psychology, and neuroscience to join in conversation, the Mind & Life Institute set the stage for a fascinating exploration of the healing potential of the human mind. The Mind’s Own Physician presents in its entirety the thirteenth Mind and Life dialogue, a discussion addressing a range of vital questions concerning the science and clinical applications of meditation: How do meditative practices influence pain and human suffering? What role does the brain play in emotional well-being and health? To what extent can our minds actually influence physical disease? Are there important synergies here for transforming health care, and for understanding our own evolutionary limitations as a species?

Edited by world-renowned researchers Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard J. Davidson, this book presents this remarkably dynamic interchange along with intriguing research findings that shed light on the nature of the mind, its capacity to refine itself through training, and its role in physical and emotional health.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Mind’s Own Physician is a journey of understanding, in which an integrative dialogue unfolds between the spiritual leaders of contemplative meditation and scientists at the forefront of mind-body medicine. This transformative conversation provides valuable insight into how meditative practices can balance the mind with effects on the body, as well as, potential benefits for human health. This blending of contemplative traditions with Western science opens a mindful awareness that has the empowering capacity to fully engage people in their health, and more broadly, in the well-being of our societies.”
—Michael R. Irwin, MD, Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

The Mind’s Own Physician brings you straight into the heart of a remarkable interchange between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, renowned contemplative teachers from Buddhist and Christian traditions, and world leaders in neuroscience, psychiatry, stress physiology, and clinical medicine. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson guide the reader through an authentic chronicle of a landmark meeting of extraordinary minds as it unfolds through a series of crystalline presentations and probing dialogues about the nature of mind, meditation, and brain function. These dialogues provide the foundation for discussion on the biological effects of chronic stress, treatment and relapse prevention in depression, and the historical and evolutionary roots of Western medicine’s struggle to understand and care for the whole person. The highly accessible and rich treatment of each of these areas is fascinating to read. The constant presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s deeply engaged attention, teaching, and critical ear reverberates throughout. The participants’ common commitment to fostering the conditions necessary for human flourishing through intercultural and interdisciplinary inquiry is truly inspiring. In capturing this arc of information and intent, The Mind’s Own Physician becomes an essential treatment of one of the most hopeful directions in thought alive today: the human capacity to ease our suffering through introspective insight and our growing scientific investigation into how this may occur.”
—Clifford Saron, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain

The Mind’s Own Physician offers us a precious portal into the seminal conversations that gave birth to the nascent field of contemplative neuroscience. The issues digested, debated, and ignited in its pages will serve as a road map and inspiration for my students and their students over the coming decades.”
—Amishi P. Jha, PhD, contemplative neuroscientist, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Miami

“If you want to see how to build bridges between the deepest wisdom of the heart and the highest standards of contemporary neuroscience, look no further. This series of meetings between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Western scientists and meditation teachers will prove to be epoch-changing, and this book shows why. Here, you will find interior and exterior empiricism in exquisite dialogue. Drink it all in. The brilliance of the participants shines through on every page.”
—Mark Williams, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford, Director, Oxford Mindfulness Centre

“Can meditation improve your health? This question is just the starting point for a series of innovative exchanges across different ways of knowing among first-ranked clinicians, scientists, Buddhist teachers, and the Dalai Lama. Thoughtful, rigorous, and surprising by turns, this dialogue reminds all of us who care about the effects of the mind on health just how much more thinking remains to be done.”
—Anne Harrington, PhD, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, author of The Cure Within

“Our thoughts can seem too real, giving our imaginings about tomorrow the power to create chronic stress and unhealthy changes in our bodies. Our sense of self can seem too fixed, creating a cage where our habitual worries can run in depressing circles. In the moment that we recognize our thoughts as thoughts and our habits as habits, new and liberating possibilities emerge for the way we live our lives. Contemplative traditions such as Buddhism have long seen the transformative power of that simple moment of recognition, and more recently, clinicians in various domains have discovered the potential that this contemplative insight offers for the treatment of chronic stress, depression, and other especially modern maladies. Yet the potential of interventions based on contemplative approaches has only begun to emerge. The full realization of that potential requires a careful, critical, and honest dialogue among contemplatives and scientists so as to allow research and clinical practices to develop effectively. This remarkable book provides a fresh and clear record of such a dialogue. Informative and highly accessible, The Mind’s Own Physician is a groundbreaking moment in the development of contemplative science.”
—John D. Dunne, Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University

“A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how Buddhist contemplative traditions and Western scientific traditions can work together to uncover the complexities of the human mind. Mind and Life has done it again: engaged a group of distinguished contemplative scholars, clinicians, and scientists in a lively, productive, and inspiring dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that furthers our understanding of meditation and its potential to heal.”
—Jeanne Tsai, Associate Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, Director, Stanford Culture and Emotion Laboratory

“This book marks a milestone in the emerging field of contemplative sciences. Within its pages, you can relive a seminal 2005 Mind and Life conference that brought together world-famous neuroscientists, clinicians, and contemplative scholars in a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This groundbreaking work explores the development of scientifically based tools and programs aimed at creating more balanced and healthy lives. How does stress evolve? What does it do to our minds and bodies? How can we use ancient mindfulness and meditative practices in our everyday, modern lives and also in clinical settings to reduce stress and cultivate healthier minds? This book is a must for everyone who is interested in making this world a more human place.”
—Tania Singer, PhD, Director, Department of Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

“Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson bring together an internationally acclaimed cast of neuroscientists and scholars for a stimulating dialogue with the Dalai Lama. They weave a rich tapestry of information on how meditation can be useful for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from depression and stress to anxiety and psoriasis. In easy-to-understand, conversational style, the experts lay out how the mind’s powerful healing effects can be harnessed in ways that are becoming increasingly illuminated by scientific discoveries.”
—Stuart J. Eisendrath, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Depression Center

Library Journal
This publication is an edited transcript of a 2005 Washington, DC, conference that brought together leading thinkers from the medical and contemplative traditions under the auspices of the Mind and Life Institute. Presentations, lengthy commentary by the Dalai Lama and many of the presenters, and Q&A sessions are included. While at first glance readers may think this a tedious read, it feels like a conversation over coffee. Some of the discussions veer into scientific technicalities, but none is so abstruse that general readers won't understand the conclusions drawn. The focus of this conference was to explore the confluence of religious, meditative, and scientific perceptions of the mind and brain. Contributors discuss how each of these worldviews approaches the study of the brain, whether the mind and brain are different, and whether religion, spirituality, and science are exclusive. VERDICT Not a self-help book so much as an exploration of how spirituality and science intersect—a useful dialog for anyone interested in the mind/body connection.—Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572249684
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications
  • Publication date: 1/2/2012
  • Series: Unassigned Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 981,003
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction, and author of numerous books, including Full Catastrophe Living; Wherever You Go, There You Are; and Coming to Our Senses.

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is currently the William James Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He has coauthored or edited over thirteen books, including Visions of Compassion and The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

Zara Houshmand has worked with the Mind & Life Institute for almost twenty years as an editor for books representing its dialogues between scientists and the Dalai Lama.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

A Confluence of Streams and a Flowering of Possibilities

Session 1 Meditation-Based Clinical Interventions: Science, Practice, and Implementation 21

How Buddhist Meditative Practices Can Inform Our Understanding of Pain and Suffering, the Potential for Healing, the Relief of Suffering, and the Underlying Nature of the Human Mind and Body Ajahn Amaro 27

Some Clinical Applications of Mindfulness Meditation in Medicine and Psychiatry: The Case of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Jon Kabat-Zinn 35

Mind-Brain-Body Interaction and Meditation Richard J. Davidson 47

Session 1 Dialogue 55

Session 2 Possible Biological Substrates of Meditation 65

Synchronization of Brain Rhythms as a Possible Mechanism for the Unification of Distributed Mental Processes Wolf Singer 66

The Neurobiology of the Adaptive and Deleterious Features of Stress Robert Sapolsky 76

Session 2 Dialogue 81

Session 3 Clinical Research 1: Meditation and Mental Health 99

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and the Prevention of Relapse in Recurrent Depression Zindel Segal 102

Paths to Recovery: Neural Substrates of Cognitive and Mindfulness-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Depression Helen Mayberg 110

Session 3 Dialogue 117

Interlude Preceding Session 4 135

The Buddhist Science of Human Flourishing Alan Wallace 136

Interlude Dialogue 144

Session 4 Clinical Research 2: Meditation and Physical Health 151

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Cardiovascular Disease David Sheps 152

Neural-Immune Interaction John Sheridan 155

Session 4 Dialogue 159

Session 5 Integration and Final Reflections 173

Meditation and the Future of Health Care Ralph Snyderman 178

Some Reflections on the Evolution and Nature of Mind and Self and Their Implications for Humanity Wolf Singer 185

Session 5 Dialogue 192

Epilogue 207

Acknowledgments 223

Notes 225

Contributors 239

About the Mind and Life Institute 255

Index 259

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2012

    AMAZING WORK BY TWO LONG TIME PIONEERS IN THIS EMERGING FIELD OF

    AMAZING WORK BY TWO LONG TIME PIONEERS IN THIS EMERGING FIELD OF CONTEMPLATIVE NEUROSCIENCE. IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE ON HOW THE MIND IMPACTS THE BRAIN>> THE BODY>>> LIFE

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    So neat!

    Terrific synthesis of science, physiology and mindfulness.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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