Joe Loizzo on Meditation Research, Neuroplasticity and Contemplative Science (#25)

About the Guest:

Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD, is a psychotherapist and founder of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, a non-profit contemplative learning community that helps people find sustainable ways of living in today’s complex world. On faculty at the Weill Cornell Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine and the Columbia University Center for Buddhist Studies, Dr. Loizzo lectures widely on the role of contemplative science in the future of health, education and contemporary life, and teaches regular public classes and workshops at Nalanda Institute, New York Open Center, and Tibet House. In 2007, he published Nagarjuna’s Reason Sixty with Chandrakirti’s Commentary, a translation study of contemplative self-analysis in Buddhism. His second book, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration, appeared in the Routledge Behavioral Science Series in 2012. He has published dozens of chapters and articles on contemplative science in peer reviewed books and journals including The Journal of Religion, the Annual Review of Psychiatry, and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Dr. Loizzo has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Gerardine, and their sons Maitreya and Ananda.

In this episode, we discussed:

  1. Joe’s personal story and what led him to the study of Buddhism. He mentions how his mother was a Catholic and his father was a psychiatrist and noticed how, with age, his mother got happier but his father got more wore down. He therefore was inspired to seek a blend between science and contemplation.
  2. Neither the academic university nor the hospital was the best place for Joe to do his work, because both are hard places to create the kind of multidisciplinary environment that Joe believes people need.
  3. The modern university came out of the monastery, however in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as the West pulled away from its religious roots, those things that made us better people got thrown out.
  4. The modern culture has given up on human improvement and said “that’s just a sentimental project”.
  5. There’s been a shift in popular and professional consciousness to attend to emotion and the fully integrated human being.
  6. The communal element of meditation (sangha) being an incredible catalyst to help us transform.
  7. Some of the latest and most inspiring meditation research.
  8. Neuroplasticity, and the brain as a mediating instrument instead of a determining source of behavior.
  9. Reappropriating ethics and the “art of good living” by saving it from its religious association.
  10. How we are to understand the relationship between the internal experience of the chakras versus the science of the nervous system as it relates to the chakras.
  11. How the science is pointing us toward the possibility of an almost god-like shift in our consciousness.
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