by Dr. Joe Loizzo

I recently had the pleasure of connecting (in person!) with contemplative neuroscientist David Vago and some of our mutual friends at the inaugural meeting of the International Society of Contemplative Research (ISCR) he founded with Nalanda Institute board member Doris Chang and others. Set on the lovely campus of the UC San Diego, the meeting brought together Buddhist scholars, neuroscientists, social justice researcher-activists and clinical researchers to explore the future of interdisciplinary dialogue and inquiry in the fast-growing field of contemplative science and practice.

It was a special treat talking with Dave just weeks after he gave a lucid and comprehensive lecture on the state of contemplative neuroscience research for the current Compassion Year cohort of our Contemplative Psychotherapy Program. I’m delighted to be able to share with you the video of that lecture, and I hope you’ll take the time to check it out and hear for yourself what Dave and his colleagues are up to.

I especially appreciate Dave’s overarching framework for contemplative research, which touches on the science and benefits of contemplative practice in fostering self-awareness, self-regulation, self-transcendence and self-integration (S-ARTI). In his lecture, Dave offers the “grain of salt” approach of hard-core laboratory researchers on some of the hype that goes with the mindfulness revolution.

At the same time, as a lifelong practitioner himself, he is well aware of the first-hand psychological, experiential and developmental impact of long term contemplative learning and practice. That may be why he and his fellow organizers at the ISCR have set out to make sure neuroscience researchers are working in close dialogue with scholar-activists in humanities and social justice.

In any case, whether you are a science-minded follower of meditation research or a practitioner of the traditional contemplative science method of first-hand critical reflection and experiential inquiry, I hope you’ll take some time to watch Dave’s lecture and see for yourself the state of the art. Let’s hope the ISCR’s collective Buddha-field of radically open inquiry and commitment to compassion achieves its aim of making a truly beneficial impact on individual and collective liberation in our pivotal age.

Find out more about Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program.