Meditation for Academic Excellence -- And Beyond

An interactive talk with Arthur Zajonc

Thursday, February 10, 4:30 - 6 pm

Bi Hall 216

Arthur Zajonc (rhymes with "science") is a physicist who speaks about the relationship between science and meditation.  He uses data to show that incorporating contemplative practice in academic settings can dramatically improve learning by developing the inner resources of the student.  High-level students like those at Middlebury are already enchanted with Thoreau's idea of "awakening to a poetic or divine life."  Dr. Zajonc uses the work of many of the world's great teachers (Rumi, Rudolf Steiner, Basho, Thoreau, Goethe, and Buddha) to show how we can redirect our process of learning toward that goal.  These practices can:

  • increase one's sustained voluntary attention;
  • break patterns of reactive, associative thinking
  • make us better able to use contradictions in what we study to think more broadly;
  • create a more conscious tempo in our lives that supports higher learning.

Arthur Zajonc is professor of physics at Amherst College and author of several books, including The Heart of Higher Education: A Call for Renewal and Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry. He serves as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue with H.H. the Dalai Lama whose meetings have been published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama (Oxford 2004) and The Dalai Lama at MIT (Harvard UP, 2006). He directs the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society which supports appropriate inclusion of contemplative practice in higher education.

Co-Sponsored by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Campus Stress, the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, the Department of Education Studies, and funded through an Alfred E. Sloan Work-Life Balance mini grant through the Office of Faculty Development.

Prof. Zajonc will conduct a Contemplative Pedagogy Seminar/Workshop for faculty and staff on Friday, February 11, 1 - 4 pm in Axinn 229. Lunch provided at 12:30.  Please contact Catharine Wright at the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research to register,<>.

Research shows that secular contemplative practices such as silent focus on an image, concept or the breath can help the brain process information, sustain inquiry into contradictions and promote well-being. In this seminar, Arthur Zajonc will present research on the effects of mindfulness techniques, describe how faculty across the disciplines have incorporated such techniques into their classes, and lead participants in contemplative practice.                                                                                                                         
Co-sponsored by the Faculty-Staff Meditation Group and funded by an Alfred E. Sloan Work/Life Balance mini-grant through the Office of Faculty Development.

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