Toward a science of contemplative practice:

Issues, findings, and experiential training in meditative quiescence

Clifford Saron and Alan Wallace

In this workshop we will consider: 1) contemplative training and experience; 2) meditation research strategies; 3) recent findings;

and 4) directions for future research. Alan Wallace will begin with a didactic and experiential introduction to two contemplative practices
from the Buddhist tradition that are used to cultivate attentional stability and vividness. These are mindfulness of breathing and
“settling the mind in its natural state” (focusing attention on the field of mental events). Wallace will also introduce four “qualities
of the heart”: compassion, lovingkindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity. After a period of meditation practice, Clifford Saron
will lead the group through a discussion of the complexities of applying existing research paradigms to the study of meditation. He
will use illustrations from recent, ongoing, and planned studies. Additional time for meditation and general discussion will follow.
The goal of the workshop is to articulate a set of principles and standards that can be applied when evaluating past research or
planning future studies.

Clifford Saron, Ph.D. is currently an Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Bra in at the University of California at
Davis ( He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999.
Dr. Saron has had a long-standing interest in brain and behavioral effects of meditation practice. In the early 1990’s he was centrally
involved in a field research project investigating Tibetan Buddhist mind training in collaboration with Jose Cabezón, Richard Davidson,
Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace and others under the auspices of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life
Institute. Currently, in collaboration with Alan Wallace and other colleagues, he is coordinating a longitudinal study known as the Shamatha Project, investigating the intensive training of attention based on the practice of meditative quiescence (shamatha) and
cultivation of four qualities of the heart: compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity. His other main research focus
concerns elucidating multisensory processing deficits in children on the autistic spectrum.

 B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D. has been a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, and he has taught Buddhist theory and meditation
throughout Europe, the Americas, and Australia since 1976. Having devoted fourteen years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk,
ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford University. He is currently seeking ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices and Western science to advance the study of the mind. His published works include Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind (Snow Lion, 1996), The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, 2000), Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment (John Wiley & Sons,2005), and Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground (New York:Columbia University Press, 2003). He is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies (