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Courses

Contemplative Therapies: Building Resilience Through Mindfulness & Compassion

  • MindBody Studies
  • By Joe Loizzo

About the Course

Contemplative trainings are emerging as vital interventions for the prevention and treatment of a wide range of conditions caused or exacerbated by the adverse effects of chronic stress and trauma, from mental conditions like anxiety, depression, addictions and PTSD to common disorders like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, IBS, autoimmune syndromes and chronic pain. This course explores the mind/body mechanisms and methods of stress-reduction, self-healing and optimal health based on a growing body of neuropsychological research and clinical application of contemplative techniques like mindfulness, compassion and embodied practices drawn from the traditional healthcare systems of Asia.

Decades of research have mapped every step of the many pathways by which stress and trauma inflict wear and tear on our minds, brains and bodies. Our default survival mode and negativity bias predispose us to lean into stress and trauma and get locked into mindlessly fighting/flying or fainting/freezing in the face of adversity and suffering. This module will explore the nature and impact of stress-reactive habits of thought, emotion, embodied reflex and lifestyle on general health and well-being. And it will compare modern models of stress and trauma with the traditional model of Buddhist psychology and healthcare.
This module explains the science and practice of reducing stress and cultivating resilience and self-healing through training attention and applying it through mindful insight and care. The class will explore the science of conscious neuroplasticity and how it fosters the cultivation of healthy states and traits like resilience—the capacity to bounce back from stress to well-being—and self-care—the capacity to face adversity with acceptance and skill. The practice of training attention, insight and care through mindfulness is framed in terms of overriding the default “problem mind” of stress and setting a “solution mind” of clarity and calm as a new normal for positive health. The module will show how the traditional practice of four scopes of mindfulness serves to support the cultivation of mindful insight and self-care and address simple ways the practice can be applied in healthcare and in everyday life.
While mindful insight and care are ideal practices to cultivate personal resilience and self-healing, resilience and healing in the social emotional realm of relationships, communities, and social systems are best cultivated through the practice of wise compassion. This module covers the science of social stress, including how implicit bias triggers social-emotional stress reactivity and how the distress of others triggers sympathetic distress (commonly known as empathic burnout, compassion fatigue and/or vicarious trauma). It then explains how compassion training helps expose and correct implicit biases, support accurate empathy, prevent sympathetic distress, and transform reactive emotions into rewarding and empowering social emotions like compassion and equanimity. The module addresses the four forms of compassion practice and links them to the development of emotional intelligence and social emotional skill, as well as addressing everyday practices for bringing compassion to the social challenges of daily life.
At the deepest levels of practice, mindfulness and compassion training gradually influence our embodied way of being, working to reduce visceral stress reflexes and states maintained by our autonomic nervous system. This deeper healing and integration can be facilitated by embodied practices that calm the primitive fight-flight and faint-freeze reflexes by sending mind/body cues of safe connection to the reptilian brain that calm those reflexes. This module covers the polyvagal theory of the mammalian autonomic system that explains how embodied practices promote the deepest levels of resilience and social mind/brain integration. The class then explores the four embodied practices that allow practitioners to offer the brainstem top-down cues of safe connection—through social imagery and affirmation—and bottom-up cues—through deep abdominal breathing and gentle movement. Finally, we cover how embodied practices help shift our fundamental way of being from our default survival mode to social thriving, including practices that promote fearless embodied presence in everyday life.

Students who take this course will:

  • Understand how the four phases of stress and trauma promote mind/body disease.
  • Learn how attention directs neuroplasticity that shapes the mind, brain and body.
  • Understand how four levels of resilience help us bounce back from the four levels of stress-reactivity.
  • Explore traditional contemplative systems of conscious self-healing and self-change.
  • Become familiar with mindfulness, compassion and embodied practices that reduce stress, build resilience and foster optimal mind/body health and well-being.

About Joe Loizzo

Joe Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D. is a contemplative psychotherapist, clinical researcher, and Buddhist scholar-teacher who integrates ancient contemplative science and technology with current breakthroughs in neuroscience and optimal health. After training in psychiatry at Harvard and completing a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at Columbia, he founded Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, a non-profit that helps people build sustainable happiness, compassion, and leadership through integrating science-based contemplative skills into their daily lives. On faculty at the Weill Cornell Center for Integrative Medicine and the Columbia University Center for Buddhist Studies, Dr. Loizzo lectures widely on the role of meditative learning in the future of heath, education, and leadership, and teaches regular public classes and workshops at his Nalanda Institute, and Tibet House US. In 2007, he published NagarjunaÕs Reason Sixty with ChandrakirtiÕs 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.

About Moustafa Abdelrahman

Moustafa Abdelrahman, is a Registered Psychotherapist, a Meditation Teacher and an MBA and with over 18 years of corporate experience working with Fortune 100 companies worldwide. Abdelrahman is an advisory member and instructor of the histories and philosophies of mindfulness courses at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto, is core faculty for the Compassion-Based Resilience Training at the Nalanda Institute and has facilitated mindfulness workshops for a wide range of corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is the co-founder of Toronto's LGBTQ+ focused Mindfulness Meditation program at the 519 community center. Having lived in both Canada and the Middle East, he is familiar with the cultural complexities and has extensive experience providing diversity and inclusion training to various organizations.

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Unlimited Membership

  • Access to this course, plus…
  • Member Only Content
    Unlimited access to premium articles, special podcast series, and other member only content.
  • EPTV Streaming Video Service
    Access to EPTV Original Series and our video library of over 250+ hours of lectures, talks and workshops.
  • Wisdom School Courses
    Access to 60+ on-demand courses plus two new courses every month.