This summer, thanks to a CCCS grant, I had the incredible opportunity to work remotely for a mindfulness startup based out of Mumbai, called BeyondMind. During the first half of the summer, I worked remotely from Berkeley, and I attended a conference on Buddhism and Science co-organized by William Waldron (Professor of Religion at Middlebury) and neuroscientist Clifford Saron that allowed me to better understand both the breakthroughs and limitations in the popular study of mindfulness. As someone who wishes to pursue Buddhist Studies at a graduate level after Middlebury, I am very interested in how we might appropriately secularize Buddhist teachings to bring mindfulness practices to a larger group of people. Equally weary of diluting the teachings in the process, my engagement this summer with the topic through research, mindfulness and emotional intelligence workshops, and participant interviews has allowed me to better understand how individuals with no background in Buddhism or science interact with the lessons being taught.
This summer was the first step in what I believe will be a lifetime of attempting to understand how religion and science can work together to help us understand how humans can flourish in our rapidly changing environments, and I am thankful to the Center for Community Engagement for helping to make this possible.