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Buddhism & Yoga: Harnessing Key Brain Circuitries for Healing & Happiness

Jim Hopper, Ph.D. & David Schouela, RYT-500

Thanks for your interest in our annual 5-day workshop/retreat at Kripalu in May (Sunday night through Friday morning).

We are delighted and honored to have this opportunity to share how we’re applying neuroscience, Buddhist psychology, meditation and yoga to transforming our lives and the lives of our clients.

Here we provide additional info beyond Kripalu’s catalog and website description (linked to from Jim’s bio page on Kripalu’s site). We also suggest resources (websites, books, etc.) that you may find useful, whether you attended our programs or not.

Please don’t hesitate to email us with any questions or suggestions, or if you’re interested in future programs of ours at Kripalu or elsewhere ([email protected])

You can also ask questions of Kripalu’s staff, and register by phone, at 800-741-7353.

With warm wishes,

Jim & David

About Our 5-day Program

From the Kripalu catalog and website:

For therapists, yoga instructors, researchers, and everyone interested in harnessing the brain for transformation. This program is an “intensive format” workshop including more learning hours than the average 5-day course.

Learn how Buddhist- and neuroscience-informed meditation and yoga techniques can cultivate mindful embodiment and transform habitual thoughts, emotions, and behaviors into openings for freedom, love, and happiness.

Drawing on contemporary neuroscience and traditional Buddhist psychology, this workshop focuses on seven key dimensions of human experience and their corresponding brain circuitries: aversion, seeking, satisfaction, bodily awareness, executive functioning, relationships, and “default mode” processes. Jim Hopper and David Schouela interweave theory with practice to promote an experiential understanding of these concepts.

Explore Buddhist practices, including concentration, mindfulness, loving-kindness, and mind-training meditations, and contemporary yoga practices that can harness and transform our brain circuitries and the relationships between them. Jim and Dana provide handouts for every presentation and step-by-step instructions for each practice.

See also our Kripalu website bio pages: Jim HopperDavid Schouela

More info:

We invite you to join us for this innovative and highly experiential workshop at a leading retreat center for yoga and health.

Our presentations will be accompanied by plenty of time for questions and discussion. Each day participants will learn and practice meditation and yoga.

During free time you can enjoy being at Kripalu – a beautiful place with many wonderfully peaceful, healing and rejuvenating offerings, including hiking, hot tubs, and excellent food. See Kripalu’s Guest Information, including AccommodationsArrival InformationDining, and Healing Arts (i.e., options for one-on-one care and support).

Last but not least, if you are a mental health professional, you will receive 23.5 hours of continuing education credits.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe key Buddhist psychological principals of craving, aversion, and ignorance.
  • Explain parallels between Buddhist principles of craving, aversion and ignorance and neuroscience research on these psychological and behavioral processes.
  • Describe the fundamental roles of craving, aversion, and ignorance in perception, cognition, emotion and behavior.
  • Explain the brain’s ‘default mode’ and how it involves ongoing processes of craving and aversion while perpetuating ignorance.
  • Apply Buddhist, yoga and neuroscience principles and insights to increase one’s understanding of conditioning and habits rooted in fear and craving.
  • Describe how Kripalu yoga and other gentle and mindful yoga practices can cultivate capacities necessary for transforming fear, anxiety, depression and addictions.
  • Explain how Buddhist and yoga methods may alter brain processes involved in the regulation and dysregulation of physiological and emotional systems, especially in the midst of fear, anxiety, depression and addictions.
  • Practice Buddhist methods for cultivating concentration.
  • Practice Kripalu yoga methods that increase awareness and mindfulness of sensations, movements, and emotions.
  • Practice Buddhist methods for cultivating mindfulness.
  • Practice Buddhist methods for cultivating lovingkindness and compassion.
  • Apply concentration methods to alter the brain’s default mode.
  • Apply Kripalu yoga methods to calm the body and brain, and to increase awareness and mindfulness of sensations, movements, and emotions.
  • Apply mindfulness methods to gain direct insight into default mode brain functioning.
  • Apply mindfulness methods to gain direct insight into conditioned responses of aversion and craving toward external stimuli, internal experiences and interpersonal interactions.
  • Apply lovingkindness and compassion methods to calm the brain and body.
  • Apply mindfulness, lovingkindness and compassion methods to increase acceptance, peace and happiness, and to decrease judgmental thinking and the strength of conditioned craving, aversion, and emotional responses including fear, shame, and guilt.

Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society in Wooster, Massachusetts – Founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues, this organization developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and has trained people to run MBSR programs around the world. The web site has information about the their annual conference, finding colleagues who have adapted the MBSR approach to specific client groups, etc.

Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts – Where Jim and David have done a number of retreats. It’s one of the oldest, most respected and best-run retreat centers in North America.

Iyengar Yoga: National Association of the United States includes a clear description of Iyengar Yoga and a directory of Iyengar yoga teachers in the U.S. As explained on Cultivating Mindfulness, this yoga method can be a good way to cultivate mindfulness for people who need a physically active and movement oriented approach and/or don’t (yet) feel at home in their bodies.

Self-Compassion – Kristin Neff’s site, about “a healthier way of relating to yourself,” includes scholarly research and exercises for how to increase self-compassion.

The Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy in Newton, Massachusetts – A great organization with many offerings for therapists.

The Center for Mindful Eating – This is a “forum” for “professionals who wish to help their clients develop healthier relationships with food and eating, and to bring eating into balance with other important aspects of life.”

Pat Ogden’s Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute provides training in body-oriented therapy that includes a major mindfulness component, including methods for “tracking” bodily sensations, helping clients process traumatic memories and conditioning in states of optimal arousal, etc. This approach is grounded in sound and ethical clinical practices that do not violate clients’ boundaries.

The Dhamma BrothersDoing Time, Doing Vipassana and Changing From Inside – Films on prisoners doing intensive vipassana or ‘Insight’ meditation retreats (in the Goenka vipassana tradition, which is more structured and more focused on body scan meditation than retreats at the Insight Meditation Society).

Mindfulness & Meditation – Section of my website, written with special consideration for those living with the effects of trauma.

Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, 2002 – Free on the web, or

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, by Joseph Goldstein, 2013.

Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, by Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel, Paul Fulton (Editors), 2005.

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom, by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius, 2009.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, by Christopher Germer, 2009.

Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, by Kristin Neff, 2011.

The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges, by Paul Gilbert, 2009.

Mindfulness-Oriented Interventions for Trauma: Integrating Contemplative Practices, by Victoria Follette, John Briere, Deborah Rozelle, James Hopper & David Rome, 2015.

Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, 2011.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy: Bringing the Body into Treatment, by David Emerson, 2015.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician’s Guide, by Sarah Bowen, Nela Chawla, and G. Alan Marlatt, 2010.

ACT Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, by Russ Harris, 2009.

Finding Life After Trauma: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Heal from Post-Traumatic Stress and Trauma-Related Problems, by Victoria Follette and Jacqueline Pistorello, 2007.

The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being, by Daniel Siegel, 2007.

The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician’s Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration, by Daniel Siegel, 2010.

Insight Dialogue: The Interpersonal Path to Freedom, by Gregory Kramer, 2007.

Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body, by Reginald Ray, 2008.

The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology, by Lorne Ladner, 2004.

Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction, by Thomas and Beverly Bien, 2002.

What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula, 1974.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, by Pema Chodron, 2002.

The Mindful Child, by Susan Kaiser Greenland, 2010.

The Attention Revolution, by Alan Wallace, 2006.

Buddhism with an Attitude, by Alan Wallace, 2003.

Please feel free to email us with suggestions for other resources that have been helpful to you (put ‘Kripalu’ in subject line, [email protected]).