Buddhist Studies Conference, October 2005:
Buddhist and Scientific Approaches to Mental Health and Healing

In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the intersection of Buddhism and Western psychological science. This is most clearly observed in the accumulating empirical research demonstrating the positive impact of mindfulness meditation on both physical and mental health. Buddhist spiritual leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, have applauded and explicitly encouraged this growing interaction between Buddhism and psychology.Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has received growing recognition as a potentially effective intervention for the treatment of a wide range of medical and emotional disorders. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has emerged as one of the better known and empirically effective clinical applications of mindfulness and has been shown to significantly benefit individuals with a diverse set of conditions including chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, eating disorders, and fibromyalgia.

Despite the efficacy of Buddhist-related applications such as mindfulness meditation, they comprise only a very small fraction of the approaches to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of mental health potentially available within the broader Buddhist spiritual literature. No mindfulness-based treatment, for example, has integrated Buddhist perspectives on mental health to include the modification of dysfunctional behavior, communication, lifestyle, and attitude (as expressed, for example in the Noble Eight-Fold Path).

By increasing the awareness of the scientific community of the range and depth of Buddhist techniques and strategies, interventions with even greater impact on health can be anticipated. The purpose of the October conference, Exploring the Mind, held at the University of Toronto between October 14 and 16, was to advance this discussion by bringing together researchers who are investigating several Buddhism-related psychological techniques as well as prominent Buddhist scholars who have a broader understanding of the potential contribution of Buddhism to alleviating suffering and improving health. (Left: Conference audience at the University of Toronto.)




2-4 pm, Wolfond Centre, 2nd Floor, 36 Harbord Street, University of Toronto
Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation Workshop, led by Ven. Punnadhammo
Free admission

7:30 pm, Earth Sciences Building, Room 1050, 4 Bancroft Street, University of Toronto
$20 general admission; free for full-time students and Buddhist clergy
Evening lecture by Mark Epstein: “The Structure of No Structure: Buddhist Contributions to Psychotherapy”

Mark Epstein, M.D., (pictured at right speaking at the University of Toronto) is in private practice as a psychiatrist in New York City, and he is also Clinical Assistant Professor in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University. He is the author of several books about Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts Without a Thinker, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, Going on Being and Open to Desire.


9 am – 6 pm, Bahen Centre for Information Technology, 40 St. George Street, Room 1160, University of Toronto
$50 general admission; $25 for full-time students and special discounts for Buddhist clergy
Saturday’s tentative schedule is below.

7:30-8:45 Registration
8:45-9:00 Opening Remarks by Professor Kwong-loi Shun, Principal and Vice President, University of Toronto at Scarborough
Panel 1: Advances in Mindfulness Research and Measurement
9-9:35 Zindel Segal, University of Toronto
“Mindfulness and the Modification of Relapse Risk in Mood Disorders”
9:35-10:10 Kirk Warren Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University
“The Application of Mindfulness Assessment to the Study of Mental Health Outcomes”
10:10-10:45 Ruth Baer, University of Kentucky
“Using Self-Report Assessment Methods to Explore Facets of Mindfulness”
10:45-11:05 Panel One Discussion, moderated by Evan Thompson
11:05-11:25 Morning Break
Panel 2: Buddhism and Cognitive Science
11:25-12 William Waldron, Middlebury College
“Evolving Models of Mind in Indian Buddhism: From the Pali Canon to Yogacara”
12-12:35 Evan Thompson, University of Toronto
“Consciousness and Mental Training”
12:35-1:10 Adam Anderson, University of Toronto
“Exploring the Neural Correlates of Mindfulness”
1:10-1:30 Panel Two Discussion, moderated by Zindel Segal
1:30-2:30 Lunch provided on site
Panel 3: Applied Buddhism: Advances and Issues
2:30-3:05 Jose Cabezon, University of California at Santa Barbara
“Toward a Typology of Buddhist Psychological Interventions”
3:05-3:40 Mark Unno, University of Oregon
“Method and Madness in Buddhist Practice and Psychotherapy”
3:40-4:15 Paul Simons, Yale University
“Spiritual Self-Schema (3-S) therapy for the treatment of addiction and HIV risk behavior”
4:15-4:35 Panel Three Discussion, moderated by Kirk Brown
4:35-5:30 Concluding Remarks & Discussion


Bahen Centre for Information Technology, 40 St. George Street, Room 2135, University of Toronto
$100 general admission per workshop; $50 for full-time students and Buddhist clergy – Workshop attendance is limited to 40 participants

Workshop One, 9 am-12: “Spiritual Self Schema (3-S) Therapy,” led by Paul Simons
This interactive workshop is intended to introduce mental health professionals to the theory and practice of a spiritually-oriented psychotherapy, called Spiritual Self-Schema (3-S) therapy.  Developed at Yale University School of Medicine, 3-S is a manual-guided cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approach informed by Buddhist psychology, for helping individuals in treatment for addiction to use their own spiritual/religious beliefs to develop and activate a self-schema that is consistent with doing no harm to self or others. Participants will learn and practice techniques for strengthening their own spiritual self schema that draw on the three trainings of the Noble Eightfold Path and the 10 paramitas, and they will learn how to use these techniques in their clinical practice — especially, but not exclusively, in their work with clients in treatment for addiction. For more information, visit our website:  www.3-S.us

Workshop Two, 1:30-4:30 pm: “Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for the Prevention of Depressive Relapse,” led by Mark Lau
This 3-hour workshop will provide the theoretical background underlying the development of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), empirical support for MBCT as well as practical training in the key elements of MBCT. The workshop will combine a didactic base with experiential exercises. The program is ideally intended for mental health providers who have some familiarity with the cognitive model of emotional problems and/or mindfulness meditation. This workshop meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been accredited for up to 3 Mainpro-M1 credits; it is approved as an Accredited Group Learning Activity under Section 1 of the Framework of CPD options for the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. (3 hours)


B. Alan Wallace: “A Buddhist View of Optimal Mental Health”
Innaugural Lecture, Saturday, April 30, 2005: Earth Sciences Building, Room 1050

View Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint presentation as a .pdf file. Listen to an audio recording of his talk as downloadable .mp3 files: Part One | Part Two | Questions (partial only).

B. Alan Wallace, PhD, is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. After being a Buddhist monk for 14 years, he obtained a degree in physics and the philosophy of science, and then a PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University. Alan frequently acts as translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and has been closely involved in the Dalai Lama’s collaborative research projects with Western physicists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and cognitive scientists. Alan is the author, translator, and editor of numerous books on the Tibetan contemplative tradition, the interdisciplinary study of the mind, and Tibetan medicine. Currently, he is working with neuroscientists and psychologists at Stanford, UC-Davis, UC-San Francisco, and the University of Wisconsin to study the long term benefits of meditation on the brain and optimal mental health using Buddhist contemplative methods.

Anne Carolyn Klein: “The Knowing Body: Buddhism, Being, and Seeing”
Harvey Aronson: “Buddhist Mindfulness and Western Psychotherapy”
Saturday, May 28, 2005: Earth Sciences Building, Room 1050

Anne Carolyn Klein, PhD, is Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University in Houston Texas, and the author of four books and numerous articles. She has been a practicing Buddhist and student of Buddhist thought since 1971 and has studied extensively with Geluk and Dzogchen teachers in India, Nepal and the U.S., including Kensur Ngawang Lekden, Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche, Geshe Wangyal, Geshe Rabten, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, and many others. Anne earned her PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of Virginia, after which she held a post-doc at Harvard Divinity School before moving to Rice University. Her books include Meeting the Great Bliss Queen, Path to the Middle and Knowledge and Liberation.

Harvey Aronson, PhD, MSW, is a licensed therapist in private practice and Buddhist a meditation teacher. He received a PhD. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin and an MSW from Boston University. Harvey has studied extensively with Geluk and Dzogchen teachers in India, Nepal and the U.S. and has been a student of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche since 1973; he has also studied with Theravada teachers, such as Sri Satya Narain Goenka. He is the author of Love and Sympathy in Theravada Buddhism and Buddhist Practice on Western Ground.



G. Alan Marlatt: “Addiction and the Buddhist Middle Way: Implications for Relapse Prevention and Harm Reduction”
Saturday, June 18, 2005: Earth Sciences Building, Room 1050

View Dr. Marlatt’s PowerPoint presentation as a .pdf file.Listen to an audio recording of his talk as downloadable .mp3 files: Part One | Part Two

G. Alan Marlatt PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. His major focus in both research and clinical work is the field of addictive behaviors. He has published several books, including Harm Reduction, and Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Studies (BASICS): A Harm Reduction Approach. In 1990 he was awarded the Jellinek Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to knowledge in the field of alcohol studies, and in 2001 he was awarded the Innovators in Combating Substance Abuse Award by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The speaker series and conference were made possible by generous financial contributions from the
University of Toronto Connaught Committee and the Buddhist Education Foundation for Canada.

Additional support was provided by the University of Toronto’s Centre for the Study of Religion, the University of Toronto at Scarborough, the University of Toronto Buddhist Community, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Numata Program in Buddhist Studies-UTM, New College, and the Department of East Asian Studies. The series and conference were planned by a committee of University faculty members, administrators, students, and community supporters working to encourage the growth of Buddhist Studies at the three campuses of the University of Toronto.

Conference Academic Co-Chairs:
Frances Garrett, Assistant Professor, Buddhist Studies, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto
Tony Toneatto, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Research Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto

Conference Planning and Organizing Committee:
Irene Kao, Karen Kelly, Alice Lee, Rory Lindsay, Chris Ng, Suelan Toye, Fang Zhang, Caz Zyvatkauskas