June 2015 Meditation and mindfulness techniques are fast gaining currency as effective tools to de-stress, increase focus and efficiency, get off a debilitating habit, or stay happy. The Dalai Lama: Promoting scientific study of ancient meditation techniques Allan Wallace, an ex-monk, and a translator for HH Dalai Lama for 10 years, with a degree in religious studies from Stanford university, started a spiritual centre devoted to mindfulness practises, in Santa Barbara, USA. He opened similar centres in Italy and Thailand and wanted to set up something similar in India. He suggested this idea to his mentor HH Dalai Lama, who readily endorsed it. On Dalai Lama’s recommendation it was decided that the centre be opened in Bangalore. He named it Garden of Samadhi. “Indians should take the initiative of reviving the ancient techniques of meditation and mindfulness. The effects should also be subjected to scientific scrutiny and research by reputed institutes for scientific documentation,” said the Dalai Lama. Says Dipnkar Khanna, executive member of Garden of Samadhi, “The whole concept has three tiers. First is the outreach programme which includes mindfulness instructions for school children to increase their attention span and focus. It also covers the topics of achieving emotional balance and anger management for young adults, and stress management for busy professionals. It addresses the issue of performing under pressure for sports persons as well. “The second is the performance tier where short retreats in shamatha and vipassana meditations are organised to help team leaders, bosses and managers create synergy and increase performance of their teams. “The third tier is about long-term contemplative practises which involves long-term stay of the individual at the centre. This facility will also involve a contemplative observatory which will have equipments to study the long-term effects of meditation on people and their well-being. With scientific study and analysis it would become easier to validate the benefits of meditation on people. With scientific evidence there is greater acceptability of the concepts propagated by us.” Currently the programmes are being conducted from a space provided by Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. Their first programme was held from 16th to 19th May. The next programme ‘Cultivating Emotional Balance’ would be held from October 5 to 15. On December 11 and 12, 2015, they would co-host a conference with NIMHANS on the topic ‘Integrating Scientific and Contemplative Approaches to Exploring the Mind’. His Holiness The Dalai Lama has confirmed his participation for the event.
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