October 29, 2007
Conference explores mental fitness
By kim urquhart
A cadre of Emory scholars and other national experts shared their research on mind-body connections with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama at the Oct. 20 Mind and Life XV conference, “Investigating the Mind: Mindfulness, Compassion and the Treatment of Depression.”
The Dalai Lama, long fascinated with science and technology, co-founded the Mind and Life Institute to bring scientists and Buddhists together to explore what they might have in common. The conference — the first Mind and Life dialogue to focus entirely on depression and how mindful-based approaches and meditation on compassion can be effective methods of treatment — underscored how the scientific and the Buddhist traditions can each inform the other.
A lively dialogue ensued, ranging from understanding depression from a Buddhist perspective to using deep brain stimulation for reaching patients with treatment-resistant depression to whether training Emory students in socially-based meditative techniques can reduce symptoms of depression.
“Your work is really I think a hopeful sign,” the Dalai Lama said, adding that he hopes that groundbreaking research and discoveries from the scholars’ studies may bring “peace of spirit” to those who are struggling with depression and “hungry for compassion.”
“The message is that mental fitness matters,” said Adam Engle, co-founder of the Mind and Life Institute, in concluding the conference that kicked off a full weekend of events celebrating the Tibetan leader’s visit to Emory.