2015 Conference for Contemplative Practices

Conference for Contemplative Practices to Promote Child and Family Well-Being
October 9-10, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The 2015 Contemplative Practices to Promote Child and Family Well-Being Conference brought together scholars and practitioners whose work is designed to enhance the well-being of children and families through secular contemplative practices such as mindfulness and meditation. We seek to advance the science and practice of contemplative practices to address:

  • Children’s and family member’s attention and emotion regulation,
  • Feelings of stress, empathy, compassion, and
  • Positive interactions with others (especially between parents and children)

Cutting edge research findings and their applications were presented, with many opportunities for discussion, sharing and networking across the two days.

Registration included breakfast, snacks, appetizers during the poster session, a yoga session with Scott Anderson of Alignment Yoga, a meditation session with Cortland Dahl, and dialogues with Drs. Raison, Duncan, Davidson, and Dimidjian.

Also featured a choice of panels in the areas of Public Education, Health, and Diverse Communities.  Cutting edge research findings and their applications were presented, with many opportunities for discussion, sharing and networking across the two days.

Featured Speakers

Larissa G. Duncan, PhD holds the Elizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child & Family Well-Being in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the at the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) at UW-Madison.  She is an affiliate of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and she is a Healthy Minds, Children, and Families Specialist with UW-Cooperative Extension serving as a resource to UW-Extension Family Living Educators across the state of Wisconsin.  Before joining SoHE this year, Dr. Duncan was Associate Professor in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Family and Community Medicine and a core faculty member of the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.  Her program of research focuses on studying mindful parenting and testing the impact of family-focused and school-based programs that incorporate mindfulness, compassion, and lovingkindness practices.  To promote health equity among diverse populations, Dr. Duncan is developing secular contemplative enhancements to group care models of maternal-child healthcare delivery and examining their impact on biological and psychological aspects of well-being. Visit her webpage here.

davidson_richardRichard J. Davidson, PhD is a renowned neuroscientist and one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as meditation, on the brain. He is the founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in studying emotion and the brain. A friend and confidante of the Dalai Lama, he is a highly sought after expert and speaker internationally. Time magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world in 2006. Dr. Davidson has published hundreds of scientific papers and edited 14 books. A New York Times bestselling author, he has been featured widely in popular media, including ABC’s Nightline, National Public Radio, Time magazine, Newsweek, O, the Oprah magazine, PBS’s the Charlie Rose Show, Harvard Business Review, and many other national and international news outlets. Dr. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the Waisman Brain Imaging Lab and the Lab for Affective Neuroscience – all at the UW-Madison, where he has been a faculty member since 1984.  Visit his webpage here.

raisonCharles Raison, MD is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families in the School of Human Ecology. Dr. Raison, formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and at the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Arizona. Prior to this, he was an Associate Professor and Clinical Director of the Mind Body Program at Emory University. Dr. Raison received his medical degree from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and won the Missouri State Medical Association Award. He completed residency training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital in Los Angeles. The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His research focuses on bi-directional relationships between neuroendocrine and immune systems, especially as these pertain to depression in response to stress or medical illness. His research ranges from immune system effects on central nervous system functioning to the application of compassion meditation as a strategy to reduce inflammatory responses to psychosocial stress. Dr. Raison has also done pioneering studies on the use of cytokine antagonists for the treatment of major depression. In addition Dr. Raison is the mental health expert for CNN.com. Visit his webpage here.

Sona Sona DimidjianDimidjian, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She is also a member of the Center for Neuroscience.  Dr. Dimidjian received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington in 2005.  Her research addresses the treatment and prevention of depression, with a particular focus on the mental health of women during pregnancy and postpartum. She is a leading expert in cognitive and behavioral approaches to treating and preventing depression and in the clinical application of contemplative practices, such as meditation and yoga. Current projects in her lab focus on the development of preventive interventions with at risk pregnant women, on the dissemination of evidence based psychotherapy, and, in collaboration with Tor Wager, on the neuroscience of compassion and interventions designed to increase compassionate behavior. For more information about Dr. Dimidjian and her research visit her webpage here.