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October 3, 2017

The Untold Story of America’s Mindfulness Movement: Then, Now, and the Future

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Join three pioneers of mindfulness meditation for a one-time only sharing of their interwoven contributions to its spread in the West. Close friends since the 1970s in Cambridge, they became not only practitioners but advocates of mindfulness practice, moving in their unique, synergistic ways to spread their understanding to growing audiences that today form a main stream movement. This story has never been told.

It’s the early 1970s, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, has just earned a doctorate at MIT in molecular biology. A meditator in the Zen Buddhist tradition, he saw a chance to bring meditation out of its religious trappings to benefit people with health problems. Enter Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Daniel Goleman as a Harvard graduate student spent two years in India where meeting highly accomplished yogis and lamas inspired him to return to the University for research on meditation as a way to reduce stress reactivity – and continue as a practitioner during his years as a New York Times journalist most widely known for his books on emotional intelligence.

And Richard Davidson, Dan’s fellow graduate student at Harvard, not only did research there on meditation as a way to enhance attention, but went on to direct the Waisman neuroscience lab and the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin. There his research on meditation has included one-of-a-kind studies of Olympic level Tibetan yogis, who show unparalleled beneficial changes in their brain function – as well as being remarkably upbeat and kind.

In their new book Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, Goleman and Davidson review the strongest findings to separate hype from fact. They show that the benefits of mindfulness and other kinds of meditation go beyond the temporary benefits and pleasant states mental exercise can bring to produce lasting positive traits.

Moderated by David Gelles, the New York Times maven of mindfulness, the evening is sure to be an evening of lively dialogue. Join us and these meditation pioneers to delve into the birth of the movement, where it is today, and where it might be going in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: After the panel, we will have copies of Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body for sale, and there will be a book signing.

If you cannot attend in person, we are offering a free live stream of the event, so you can join us virtually. Register for the free live stream here.

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half, with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. Apart from his books on emotional intelligence, Goleman has written books on topics including self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, ecoliteracy and the ecological crisis.

Goleman is a co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, originally at the Yale Child Studies Center and now at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CASEL’s mission centers on bringing evidence-based programs in emotional literacy to schools worldwide.

Goleman is also a board member of the Mind & Life Institute and a member of the Garrison Institute’s Advisory Board.

Richard Davidson, PhD
, is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has received numerous awards for his research. He has been a member of the Mind and Life Institute’s Board of Directors since 1991. In 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2004, he was elected to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. 

Davidson has published more than 320 articles, numerous chapters and reviews, and edited 14 books. He is the author (with Sharon Begley) of The Emotional Life of Your Brain and the recently published Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (with Daniel Goleman). 


Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
, was the founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He was also the founding director of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in various venues around the world. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT in 1971 in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria.

He is the author of numerous scientific papers on the clinical applications of mindfulness in medicine and health care, and of a number of books for the lay public including Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness; Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life; Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness; and Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness


David Gelles
is a reporter for The New York Times’s Sunday Business section, writing about tech, sustainability, executive compensation and more. He also writes the Revalued column, which covers social and environmental responsibility in the business world, and is working with the Well team to expand The New York Times‘s coverage of meditation. Gelles is the author of Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From the Inside Out.

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