Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Lerab Ling hosts Buddhism and Medicine conference

Conference speakers in front of the statue of the Buddha at Lerab Ling. From left to right: Ursula Bates, Dr Frederic Rosenfeld, Sara Lazar, Rosamund Oliver, Erika Rosenberg, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Clifford Saron, Sogyal Rinpoche, Olivier Raurich, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr Lucio Bizzini, Dr Cathy Blanc, Dr Edel Maex and Laurence Bibas.
The Lerab Ling temple hosted its first major conference at the weekend as almost 1,000 people attended the Third International Forum on Buddhism and Medicine.

The two-day event brought together Buddhist masters, scientific researchers and leading experts in the application of meditation in medicine and therapy to discuss the health benefits of meditation.

Sogyal Rinpoche and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Speakers included Sogyal Rinpoche and Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Jon Kabat-Zinn—the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—and Clifford Saron, the principal investigator on The Shamatha Project, the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of long-term meditation practice.

Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche
Day one of the conference covered some of the latest scientific research on meditation. The Shamatha Project, for example, examined two groups of 30 meditation practitioners as they took part in three-month retreats in the United States. Many of the results are still being evaluated, but the initial findings appear to show a range of effects, such as sharpened and sustained attention, enhanced well-being and an ability to respond with more empathy to the suffering of others.

Clifford Saron gives a presentation on The Shamatha Project
The second day focused on some of the ways in which meditation is being applied in hospitals and other medical and therapeutic settings, through programmes such as MBSR and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Rigpa's Spiritual Care Programme, and the Association Tonglen, founded in France by Dr Cathy Blanc.

Speakers came together for a panel discussion and the conference delegates, many of whom were healthcare professionals, were also given the chance to take part in guided meditation sessions.

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