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Like Sarath, Roth encountered resistance from faculty who thought that a “meditation practicum” amounted to forcing students to do religious practice, so he changed to having “meditation labs,” which emphasize the scientific and exploratory nature of contemplative practice. The program now enjoys broad support, particularly as more scientific evidence has emerged to show, in Roth’s words, “the distinctive neurological signatures, cognitive changes, and clinical benefits that come with mindfulness practice.”

In 2007, the medical school at Brown began offering students elective-study options that would help them become more well-rounded physicians, including one in contemplative studies that Roth helped to create. In the first year, one concentrator focused on contemplative studies, but this year seven students chose a contemplative study concentration. One is studying the effect of yoga practice on post-partum depression and another wants to develop what he calls “Mindfulness-Based Positive Psychology,” in an attempt to bring mindfulness into clinical settings on a much wider basis.



From the July 2009 issue of the Shambhala Sun.

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