Plenary keynote: 
Dixon Chibanda: Promoting mental health - through outreach with grandmothers


About the keynote
Dixon Chibanda will talk about how to create space for community healing with grandmothers. Chibanda founded The Friendship Bench Project that aims to reduce the mental health treatment gap by using a cognitive behavioural therapy based approach to address mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, in Africa. 
 
The model has inspired people around the world, and so presents an opportunity for the mindfulness community as well. 
 
About the speaker
Dixon Chibanda is a psychiatrist from Zimbabwe and founder of the Friendship Bench. The Friendship Bench Project aims to reduce the mental health treatment gap by training lay people to use a cognitive behavioural therapy based approach to address mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

​He started the Friendship Bench in Harare in 2006, training grandmothers to deliver mental health care by meeting patients and talking on a bench. Today, the intervention has been refined and scaled up in Africa and internationally.

Dixon Chibanda holds a PhD from the University of Capetown (UCT) and is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) - Department of Global Mental Health.

Read more about the friendship bench and watch a video introduction by Professor Chibanda here. 
 
Plenary keynote:
Rhonda Magee: The Inner Work of Racial Justice


About the speaker
Rhonda V. Magee is Professor at the University of San Francisco and an international thought and practice leader in the emerging fields of contemplative legal education and law practice and contemplative teaching in higher education.

Her writing and teaching is inspired by a commitment to education for effective problem-solving and presence-based leadership in a diverse and ever-changing world, and to humanizing legal education. Her recent book: "The Inner Work of Racial Justice" was pusblished by Random House in Sept. 2019). Her articles on mindfulness in legal education hold titles such as: "Educating Lawyers to Meditate?" and "The Way of ColorInsight: Understanding Race and Law Effectively Using Mindfulness-Based ColorInsight Practices". Read more here 
 
Plenary keynote:
Jamie Bristow: Promoting mental health - through politics


About the keynote
The ubiquity of mindfulness training and the multiplicity of its positive outcomes in the supporting science are sometimes given as reasons to dismiss it, and to claim that it's considered a panacea. But its conspicuously diverse application is not a sign that a simple technique is being over-sold, instead it points to mindfulness being a root construct – something ‘critical to how and what one values, thinks, feels, and does in all social domains’.

In this talk we will explore a new narrative account of why mindfulness may fundamentally underpin a host of critical positive behaviours and outcomes at individual and societal levels. We will look at the current 'meta-crisis', the interconnected political, cultural, economic, technological and environmental tensions that are destabilising our societies, and how the training of mind and heart may be vital to help us meet a future of extraordinary uncertainty and peril.

About the speaker
Jamie Bristow is Director of the world's first policy institute about mindfulness, which grew out of a programme of mindfulness teaching for politicians in the British Parliament.

The Mindfulness Initiative provides the secretariat to the UK Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group and helped politicians to publish the seminal Mindful Nation UK policy report. Jamie now works with politicians around the world to help them make capacities of mind and heart serious considerations of public policy.

He was formerly Business Development Director for the meditation app, Headspace. Read more here 
 
Parallel keynote:
Willem Kuyken: Anxient wisdom meets modern psychology


About the keynote
What does it mean to be happy and live a good life? How can we live a life that is free from suffering, in ways that support our well-being, the well-being of those around us and the wider world?

In his keynote, Willem Kuyken adresses those pressing questions and more. He provides an overview of the development of mindfulness-based programs in health, education, the criminal justice, workplaces and the community, profiling the work at Oxford on depression.

The keynote draws heavily on the 2019 book Mindfulness. Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, co-written with Christina Feldman.

About the speaker
Willem Kuyken is the Ritblat Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. His work focuses on depression and its prevention and treatment. In particular, his research examines how mindfulness and mindfulness-based programs can prevent depression and enhance human potential across the lifespan.

Dr. Kuyken has published more than 100 journal articles, including key papers on the effectiveness, mechanisms, and implementation of mindfulness-based programs and, most recently, the book 'Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, co-written with Christina Feldman and published by Guilford Press (2019). Read more here


Parallel keynote:
Amit Bernstein: Socio-culturally adapted mindfulness for refugees
 
About the keynote
More than 71 million refugees – forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution and other forms of human brutality – face a global crisis of trauma, loss, injustice, despair, and uncertainty. In this lecture, I will explore how the contemplative science community may work to promote social justice and human rights for refugees.
I will share the story of my group’s efforts to ally with, study and care for the E. African refugee community in Israel. I will focus on the development and study Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R) – a 9-session mindfulness and compassion intervention that is trauma-sensitive and socio-culturally-adapted for refugees.

I will thereby reflect on the transformative potential of mindfulness and compassion training to help refugees cultivate moments of inner refuge and safety, and ultimately, a process of recovery and healing.

About the speaker
Amit Bernstein, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology, Director of the Observing Minds Lab at the University of Haifa, and member of the Israel Young Academy.

Amit is interested in how wellbeing and suffering are impacted by the ways in which we process, experience and respond to our internal states, and thereby, how mindfulness and mental training may be used therapeutically.

His team is currently studying the nature and function of attention in mental health, the salutary and curative properties and mechanisms of mindfulness, and the therapeutic translation of this work to care for vulnerable refugee populations. In his most important and rewarding job, he is Yonatan’s, Noga’s and Mia’s father. Read about the Observing Minds Lab here.
 
Parallel keynote:
Florence Meleo-Meyer: Taking our seat in the community of awakening
 

About the keynote
Inclusivity, equality and inter-being, are values expressed in the ancient story of Indra’s Net. This net stretches infinitely, glittering with a single jewel at every node of cross threads, reflecting all the others. In the expansive field of mindfulness-based programs, we are parts of a larger whole like the individual jewels at each node of the net. How do we reflect and enhance the humility, wholesome intention, and brilliance of one another? How does and how could the unifying “net” of mindfulness lead us to co-create a more awake and compassionate and cooperative world? As human beings, we are indigenous to the earth, and, as human beings who dare to look deeply into the nature of experience, we carry a unique and urgent ecological responsibility to care for the health and well-being of one another and of our planet. Maintaining the depth and integrity, ethics and core values of the transformational potential inherent in sharing mindfulness practices, involves participation from every member in this field.

In this interactive keynote, mindfulness expressed through leadership, vision, healing, teaching and befriending, will be investigated through presentation, narrative, silence, and dialogue. Abiding in and drawing from the net of collective wisdom, we will explore unique contributions of compassion, insight and generosity. We will share individual choices involving climate-awareness, and social justice, that unite us all in the larger agenda of global healing and flourishing.
 
About the speaker
Florence serves as Global Ambassador to the MBSR Affiliates world-wide at the Mindfulness Center, Brown University and is inspired by the potential of MBSR to impact global health and well-being when taught by teachers trained with rigor, depth, and cultural sensitivity.

She has trained MBSR teachers and teacher trainers for over 20 years. As Director of Oasis Institute, for Professional Education and Training at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts’ Medical School, she engaged with and supported the development of thousands of MBSR teachers globally.

Over many years, she directly trained MBSR teacher trainers, and was director of the Train the Trainer program. With equal focus on the refinement of teaching skills, attitudes and knowledge, the heart of her work attends to the cultivation of the deepest understanding of MBSR as a path of love, healing and transformation. She has been a leading contributor to the development of best practices for teacher training in the growing field of MBSR and MBIs.
 
Parallel keynote:
Eric Loucks: Fostering world-wide mindfulness delivery systems
 
 
About the keynote
Public interest in mindfulness is undergoing a rapid global expansion, as is the scientific evidence base. Because of this, population health approaches are necessary to foster evidence-based mindfulness delivery systems world-wide.

In his keynote, Eric Loucks will address some of the strongest evidence, and knowledge gaps, about the impacts of mindfulness on mental and physical health. The talk explores some of the major opportunities for mindfulness research and education moving forward, including mindfulness delivery systems, health insurance coverage, and adapting mindfulness interventions to specific patient and demographic groups.

About the speaker
Dr. Eric Loucks is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and the Medical School at Brown University. He is Director of the Mindfulness Center at Brown. Dr. Loucks has held teaching positions at Harvard, McGill and Brown Universities. He has over 85 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Loucks and his colleagues were among the first to show associations of dispositional mindfulness with cardiovascular health. They developed the first consensus theoretical framework of how mindfulness meditation could potentially reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. Dr. Loucks' work showed in a recent clinical trial of Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP) to have sizeable lowering of blood pressure in hypertensive participants. Read more here.
 
Parallel keynote:
Sara Lazar, Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School
 
About the keynote
The benefits of regular meditation practice can be challenging to document. Individuals often report that practice 'changed my life', yet these changes can be difficult to describe and are rarely captured objectively. In this talk I will present our new data concerning the use of a toolbased on Piaget’s stage theory of development that assesses ‘ego’ maturity. I will discuss how this tool may be useful for measuring certain benefits of meditation practice which are particularly difficult to assess objectively, including changes in interpersonal relationships and deeply comprehending the constructed nature of reality. I will also present information about neural correlates of this tool, and how meditation-related changes in brain structure may contribute to growth through the different stages. The talk will end with a brief discussion of how growth in ego maturity may be related to issues of diversity, equality and inclusion.
 
About the speaker
Sara W. Lazar is Associate Researcher in the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. The focus of her research is to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of meditation, both in clinical settings and in healthy individuals. Results from the Lab suggest that meditation can produce experience-based structural alterations in the brain. She is a contributing author to Meditation and Psychotherapy (Guilford Press). Read more here.
 
Parallel keynote:
Anne Speckens: Towards a more humane and compassionate healthcare
 

About the keynote
Present day health care is faced with important challenges in terms of increasing demands and costs and a shortage of people and financial means to meet these. Patients complain about inadequate and impersonal service, doctors and nurses succumb to ever increasing pressures.

In her keynote, Anne Speckens will address how mindfulness and compassion can contribute to a more humane and compassionate health care. She will share her personal journey in medicine, with its obstacles and successes and her sources of inspiration. The presentation will include evidence, also from qualitative research, about the possible contribution of mindfulness and compassion to the well-being of patients with depression, ADHD and cancer and health care professionals themselves. She will provide some ideas about how to take things forward both in research and our professional and personal lives.

About the speaker
Anne Speckens is Professor of Psychiatry in the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Founder and Director of the Radboudumc Centre for Mindfulness. Her research focuses on the application of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) in patients with both psychiatric and somatic conditions and health care professionals. She examines both clinical and cost-effectiveness and, in collaboration with the Donders Centre for Neuroscience, the possible working mechanisms of MBIs. She has over 130 peer-reviewed publications.

The Radboudumc Centre for Mindfulness offers mindfulness and compassion courses for both clinical populations with psychological or somatic conditions and for health care professionals. The Centre also offers a teacher training programme for professionals working in health care, education, criminal justice and businesses and organizes the annual Dutch symposium for mindfulness. Read more here.