mindfulness, compassion, depression

The recent Gold Medal winner the Dalai Lama and top experts in the behavioral sciences are at Emory University in Atlanta this weekend for a special Mind and Life Institute conference on depression.

For nearly 20 years, the Dalai Lama has been meeting with top Western scientists dealing with the mind to "promote the creation of a contemplative, compassionate, and rigorous experimental and experiential science of the mind which could guide and inform medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education and human development." But this Mind and Life conference is the first to focus on depression and explores a unique approach: how to use mindful-based therapies in treating the condition.

Depression is an epidemic. Nearly 10% of American adults -- 21 million people -- have a mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the US for ages 15-44. Traditional therapeutic approaches -- drugs, etc. -- get mixed results. This Mind and Life conference will examine the nature of depression and explore the possibility that some meditative practices may be helpful in its treatment or prevention.

Below the image is a media advisory about it. (I'm helping a bit with publicity for it.)

Mind and Life Institute conference with the Dalai Lama

Mindfulness, Compassion, and the Treatment of Depression
Conference with the Dalai Lama
Presented by the Mind and Life Institute and Emory University
October 20 * Atlanta, Georgia

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will meet in dialogue with neuroscientists, academic leaders and mental health professionals at a day-long conference at Emory University on October 20, 2007. Mind and Life XV: Mindfulness, Compassion and the Treatment of Depression is jointly presented by the Mind and Life Institute and Emory University at the Woodruff Physical Education Center on the Emory campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

This event is the fifteenth Mind and Life conference and the first to focus on depression. In the last two decades, these unique gatherings both in the United States and India with the Dalai Lama, neuroscientists, Buddhist scholars, and advanced meditation practitioners, have become the genesis of a new field of scientific research that investigates the effectiveness of techniques to enhance human development and alleviate mental suffering.

Mind and Life XV at Emory University will draw on a wide range of expertise within behavioral sciences and the Buddhist contemplative traditions. This day-long dialogue seeks to understand depression in physiological and cognitive terms, exploring how mindful-based therapies are useful in treating depression. This academic conference will feature presentations to the Dalai Lama by invited scientists and scholars from Emory University as well as other institutions.
Featured Presenters and Speakers
Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.; Helen Mayberg, M.D.; John D. Dunne, Ph.D.; Richard Davidson, Ph.D.; Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, Negi, Ph.D.; Dean Robert A. Paul, Ph.D.; Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D.; Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D.; Charles L. Raison, M.D.; and Adam Engle, J.D. / M.B.A.

Early Life Factors in Depression; Neurophysiological and Cognitive Aspects of Depression; Understanding Depression from a Buddhist Perspective; Mindfulness, Compassion and the Psychological Treatment of Depression; Changing the Brain by Transforming the Mind: The Impact of Compassion Training on the Neural Systems of Emotions; the Cultivation of Mindful Compassion; and Compassion Training as a Path to Emotional and Physical Wellbeing.

Panel Discussion
An exciting dimension of the Mind and Life conferences are the lively and insightful dialogues that take place between the Dalai Lama and the presenters after the formal presentations. These moderated panel discussions between the Dalai Lama, neuroscientists and advanced contemplative practitioners continue to be rich source of reflection as ancient wisdom intersects with modern cutting-edge science.

From Mind and Life co-founder Adam Engle: “The Mind and Life XV conference promises to be unique,” said Adam Engle, co-founder of the Mind and Life Institute. “This is the first time that we will be focusing entirely on depression and how mindful-based approaches and meditation on compassion can be effective methods of treatment. We hope this conference will demonstrate the critical need for further research in these promising therapies. Mental health professionals will find this conference of particular interest.”

Conference Details
For full conference details on the presenters and their presentations, visit www.dalailamaemory.org and www.mindandlife.org.

The Mind and Life Institute was co-founded in 1987 by the Dalai Lama, neuroscientist Francisco J. Varela (1946-2001) and entrepreneur Adam Engle for the purpose of initiating a unique dialogue and ground-breaking research between modern science and the great living contemplative traditions, with a particular emphasis on Buddhism. Since 2000, the primary focus of the Institute has been the creation of a new interdisciplinary field of science that asks and answers the question: How do we create and maintain a healthy mind?

The Mind and Life Institute has previously sponsored fourteen conferences bringing together the Dalai Lama with neuroscientists, psychologists, Buddhist meditation masters, and western contemplative leaders. In the last few years, Mind and Life has hosted two ground-breaking conferences in the United States -- at MIT in Boston and in Washington, D.C. For complete information, please visit www.mindandlife.org.

* * *
Media Advisory
For media wishing to cover Mind and Life XV at Emory University, please contact Nancy Seideman -- nseidem@emory.edu or 404-727-0640. Please only contact Nancy with media-related matters. Press seats are limited. Please note: The Dalai Lama is not available for any one-on-one interviews.

For media inquiries about the Mind and Life Institute, please contact Josh Baran -- josh@renewcomm.com or 212-779-2666 or Scott Tillitt -- scott@renewcomm.com, 917-449-6356. Adam Engle, co-founder of the Institute, as well as some of the presenters at the conference, will be available for interviews both in advance and during the conference.

Other Events with the Dalai Lama at Emory
For information about the other activities of the Dalai Lama at Emory University -- First Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding on October 21, and the Public Talk on Educating the Heart and Mind: A Path to Universal Responsibility on October 22, please visit http://dalailama.emory.edu for full details regarding tickets and media coverage.