The Science of Mindfulness and Meditation: Lessons for Teaching and Learning

Peter G. Grossenbacher, PhD
Associate Professor
Contemplative Psychology and Contemplative Education
Naropa University

This presentation highlights recent research findings relevant to learning and teaching from scientific research on mindfulness and meditation. Training of contemplative skills through meditation and mindfulness exercises can improve cognitive functions involved in attention, perception, metacognition, learning, and communication. In a now growing trend, contemplative education takes a particular approach to holistic education that directly engages mindfulness and awareness. Rather than comprising a domain of content to learn, mindfulness-based pedagogy can regulate brain activity, improve mental skills, and thereby influence how learning occurs. Attendees will be invited to participate in brief experiential exercises that demonstrate contemplative approaches to learning.


Peter is Associate Professor in Contemplative Psychology and Contemplative Education at Naropa University. After training in mathematics and cognitive science at U.C. Berkeley, his experimental psychology doctorate at the University of Oregon focused on electrophysiology and attention to vision and touch. After researching multisensory attention and synesthesia at the University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Mental Health, he joined the Naropa faculty in 2000. His book, Finding Consciousness in the Brain: A Neurocognitive Approach, offers insights into the brain’s involvement in conscious experience. His scholarship and research focus on neural function and information processing during meditation, and the instruction of contemplative practice. In curricula that meld scientific and contemplative modes of inquiry, Peter teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in mindful teaching, the neuroscience of meditation, Buddhist psychology, mindfulness meditation, perception, cognitive psychology, research methods, and research practica. A meditator since 1980, he teaches meditation and trains teachers in a variety of settings.

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