What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Learn from Contemplative Spirituality? / Peter G. Grossenbacher, Ph.D.

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( 1hr 22min / 18.8 MB / .MP3 )

This talk was recorded 02-16-07 at the Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue
Loyola Marymount University / Los Angeles, California


Subjective experience is orchestrated by vast networks of living brain cells. Empirical studies are now encountering depths and nuances of experience in religion and spirituality previously unknown to science.  Meditation, the central contemplative practice of Buddhism, trains attentive skills which mediate profound observations of subtle human experience, and is receiving great scientific interest, fueled by recently developed functional brain imaging methods.  The subtleties of spiritual experience are explored from a neuroscience view that delineates the pivotal roles of attention and intercellular communication within the nervous system. 

Here is a biographical sketch:

Peter G. Grossenbacher, Ph.D., is the Director of Naropa University’s Consciousness Laboratory, and Chair of Naropa’s Contemplative Psychology Department. He holds a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oregon, and directs a program of research on Meditation and Contemplative Spirituality. Dr. Grossenbacher is a gifted teacher, a long-time meditator, and a research scientist who studies meditation and perceptual phenomena such as synesthesia. Dr. Media coverage has included the New York Times, Newsweek Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Discover Magazine, and numerous radio interviews and newspaper articles. In his twenty years as a research scientist, Dr. Grossenbacher's work at England's University of Cambridge, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, and Naropa University in Colorado has broadened psychological science to address capacities of awareness that were not previously acknowledged or understood by science.


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Joining Hearts and Minds: A Contemplative Approach to Holistic Education in Psychology / Proceedings from the 2006 Institute on College Student Values / Peter G. Grossenbacher and Steven S. Parkin, Naropa University1

Contemplative education includes the same four components found in other educational systems: learning theory, curriculum, pedagogy, and learning assessment. Starting with a contemplative theory about learning, Naropa University’s robust curriculum provokes learners to know themselves and the world they inhabit. Through personal example (modeling) and numerous other pedagogical methods, the teaching provided by contemplative faculty provokes deeply transformative learning in our students.

Joining Hearts and Minds - Free Download / PDF - (13 pages / 76 KB)