The Being Human Conference, which looks at the science behind the human experience, explores conscious experience."
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2006. His research focuses on correlating emotional states with the brain activity underlying them. Davidson has reached the conclusion that our brain circuitry isn't set in stone: though our emotions are evolved responses, they are remarkably plastic and can be shaped over time. As he says, "I think that what modern neuroscience is teaching us is that, in fact, there is a lot of plasticity, that change is indeed possible, and the evidence is more and more strongly in favor of the importance of environmental influences in shaping brain function and structure and even shaping the expression of our genes." At the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Davidson and other researchers investigate qualities of mind such as compassion and mindfulness in order to understand how healthy minds might be cultivated. He is perhaps most famous for his investigations into the neurological effects of meditation, showing how this practice can functionally rewire the brain. In 2012, he spoke at the Being Human conference in San Francisco.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and of its world-renown Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Clinic. He is the author of numerous best-selling books that have been translated into over 30 languages. Dr. Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria, MD.
His research career focused on mind/body interactions for healing and on the clinical applications and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness training for people with chronic pain and stress-related disorders, including the effects of MBSR on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system (in collaboration with Dr. Richard Davidson). Dr. Kabat-Zinn's work has contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions such as medicine, and psychology, health care, schools, corporations, prisons, and professional sports. Hospitals and medical centers around the world now offer clinical programs based on training in mindfulness and MBSR. At present, funding and research in mindfulness is increasing exponentially year by year in the United States.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn has received numerous awards over the span of his career, the most recent of which are the Distinguished Friend Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (2005); an Inaugural Pioneer in Integrative Medicine Award from the Bravewell Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine (2007); and the 2008 Mind and Brain Prize from the Center for Cognitive Science, University of Torino, Italy.
He is the founding convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and a member of the Board of the Mind and Life Institute. His current projects include The Mind's Own Physician, edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard J. Davidson (Fall, 2011), and guest co-editor (with Mark Williams of Oxford University) of a special issue of the journal, Contemporary Buddhism, devoted to the subject of mindfulness from different classical and clinical perspectives (Volume 12, Issue 1, 2011). He and his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn support initiatives to further mindfulness in K-12 education and to promote mindful parenting.
Born in Lhasa, Tibet in 1939, Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche was recognized as an incarnate lama at the age of four. Among the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet, Gelek Rimpoche was forced to flee to India in 1959. He later edited and printed over 170 volumes of rare Tibetan manuscripts that would have otherwise been lost to humanity. He was director of Tibet House in Delhi, India and a radio host at All India Radio. He conducted over 1000 interviews in compiling an oral history of the fall of Tibet.
In the late 1970's Rimpoche was directed to teach Western students by his teachers, the Senior and Junior Masters to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since that time he has taught Buddhist practitioners around the world. In 1988, Rinpoche founded Jewel Heart, a Tibetan Buddhist Center. His Collected Works now include over 32 transcripts of his teachings, numerous articles, as well as the national bestseller Good Life, Good Death (Riverhead Books, 2001) and the Tara Box: Rituals for Protection and Healing from the Female Buddha (New World Library, 2004).
Fundamental dispositions and traits of humans. Theories about the nature of humankind form a part of every culture. In the West, debate has traditionally centred on whether humans are selfish and competitive (seeThomas Hobbes; John Locke) or social and altruistic (Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim). Recent research in genetics, evolutionary biology, and cultural anthropology suggests that humans may be both, and that there is a complex interaction between genetically inherited factors (nature) and developmental and social factors (nurture). Basic drives shared with other primates include food, sex, security, play, and social status. Gender differences include greater investment in reproduction and child-rearing among females, hence less risk-taking; and concomitantly less investment and greater risk-taking among males. See alsobehaviour genetics; Homo sapiens; personality; philosophical anthropology; sociobiology.