Science of Meditation
Begin your day with a mindfulness meditation led by Dr. Erika Rosenberg of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, then join Rosenberg and other worldexperts in meditation science to discuss current research.
Dr. Charles Raison from Emory University and Dr. Stuart Eisendrath from the University of California, San Francisco, are among the colloquium speakers to examine data from their own work on compassion meditation, alternative treatments for depression, and controversies in the field. A question-and-answer period follows. End with an afternoon compassion meditation class taught by Diego Hangartner, director of Mind and Life International. During the program, swissnex San Francisco is honored to exhibit paintings by artist Michel Ropion depicting the Himalayan region.
Professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and director of UCSF’s Depression Center, Eisendrath has had extensive clinical experience treating depression. He teaches evidence-based psychotherapies for depression including cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). In the past eight years, he has shifted his research and clinical focus toward applying MBCT to individuals with depression, focusing on helping them learn to relate differently to their thoughts and have greater control over their moods. He is currently the principal investigator of a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine/National Institutes of Health–sponsored clinical trial investigating MBCT’s efficacy in treating medication-resistant depression.
Hangartner completed his studies in pharmacology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), where he specialized in psychotherapeutic and psychoactive substances. He spent 11 years in Dharamsala, India, learning Tibetan, followed by seven years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. He’s worked as a translator and interpreter, translating Tibetan into English, German, French, and Spanish. He returned to Europe in 2003 and worked as General Secretary and Project Manager to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, during the Dalai Lama’s visits to Switzerland (2005) and Hamburg (2007). Hangartner has been associated with the Mind and Life Institute since the late 1990’s. He’s currently director of programming and research for the institute’s international operations.
Assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine, Raison serves as clinical director of the university’s Mind-Body Program and co-director of the Collaborative for Contemplative Studies. His research focuses on bi-directional relationships between stress and immune systems, especially as these pertain to the development of depression. He is principal investigator of a federally funded study of the effects of compassion meditation and mindfulness on behavioral and immune responses to stress, and is a mental health expert for CNN.com. Raison received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed his residency at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He was director of emergency psychiatric services and associate director of consultation and evaluation services at UCLA prior to joining the faculty at Emory. He’s received several teaching awards in addition to research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although a gifted painter and illustrator, the artist (who is of French origin and was born in Cambodia) did not follow his brothers’ footsteps into art school. Instead, he became a civil engineer. That did not stifle his creativity, however. He continued to paint and draw while travelling and working around the world, from the Middle East, to South Africa, to Asia. In South Africa, he met Clement Serneels, a Belgium painter, who taught him the intricacies of oil painting. In Singapore, a Chinese master painter instilled in him a love of brush strokes, proportion, and layout. Now retired, Ropion divides his time between his children in Europe and the United States and his home in northern India, close to the Tibetan community in the Himalayas where he gets inspiration for his vibrant landscapes and portraits. His paintings in acrylic on paper and canvas bear the color, strength, verticality, and spirituality of the rugged, high-altitude, rocky deserts and the charm of the people who inhabit them.
Rosenberg is a researcher, health psychologist, and educator on emotional life. Her studies examine how feelings are revealed in facial expressions, how social factors influence emotional signals, and how anger affects cardiovascular health. She consults with a variety of academic and non-academic clients and teaches workshops worldwide on facial expression measurement. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the UCSF, where she studied with Paul Ekman, and has served on the faculties of the University of Delaware and the College of William and Mary. She’s now a senior investigator on the Shamatha Project at the University of California, Davis, Center for Mind and Brain. She serves on the faculty of the Nyingma Institute of Tibetan Studies, in Ber
keley, where she teaches meditation courses and workshops for working with emotions in daily life and the development of mindfulness and compassion. She’s also active with the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University.
Photo: Myleen Hollero