Beyond Mindfulness: The Scientific Examination of Buddhist Practice

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Amy Bugeja

The Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
& The Buddhist Society of Victoria are pleased to present:

Over the past 30 years, psychological science has embraced one core aspect of Buddhist practice: mindfulness.  However, there is less clarity about the context in which mindfulness is best situated to facilitate flourishing. Within the broader Buddhist context, there are numerous other features and a multitude of contemplative practices, many of which science has largely neglected.

In this conversation between senior Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm and contemplative studies researcher Dr Nicholas Van Dam, we will explore what lies beyond mindfulness. We will look at how science can better understand contemplative practices originating from Buddhism and what the broader principles and practices might contribute to a life well-lived. We will also explore how science might inform and enrich contemporary Buddhist practice.

Moderator: Dr Lydia Brown

In Conversation with: Ajahn Brahm and Dr Nicholas Van Dam

Ajahn Brahm

Ajahn Brahm was born in London in 1951 and earned a degree in theoretical physics from Cambridge University. He became a monk in 1974 in the Forest Tradition of north-east Thailand under the highly esteemed meditation master Ajahn Chah. Ajahn Brahm is today a revered spiritual teacher and guide, and is abbot of the largest Buddhist monastery in the Southern Hemisphere. He is the author of Opening the Door Of Your Heart (a.k.a. Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?), Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond, The Art of Disappearing and Don’t Worry Be Grumpy (a.k.a. Good? Bad? Who knows?). His public teachings regularly attract thousands to his inventive and insightful talks, which are heard by millions of people online.

Dr Nicholas Van Dam

Dr Nicholas Van Dam is a Senior Lecturer in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, and is highly regarded global leader in contemplative research and practice. Nicholas holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and has extensive training in Cognitive Neuroscience and Mindfulness/Meditation. Nicholas has research interests in Mindfulness, Anxiety, Depression, Decision-making, fMRI, Psychometrics, and Assessment, and has been published in 55 academic publications that have been cited an impressive 4,440 times. Since relocating to Australia mid-2017, Nicholas has been featured as the lead scientist on the ABC’s flagship science program Catalyst, been an expert contributor to Shannon Har vey’s award-winning documentar y, My Year of Living Mindfully, consulted for a special episode of ABC’s Playschool called Mindfully Me, and has made several appearances on ABC and Radio National.

Dr Lydia Brown

Dr Lydia Brown is a clinical psychologist who applies Buddhist techniques based on mindfulness and compassion in a secular setting through her therapeutic work with clients. In addition to her clinical work, she has also completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard Medical School and The University of Melbourne. Her research investigates the science and practice of cultivating positive mental states, and this work has been covered in the media internationally, including Reuters Health and The Chicago Tribune. She also volunteers to co-ordinate 10 day silent meditation retreats taught by senior Buddhist monastics.