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Craving Mind: Getting Hooked, and Stepping Out of Our Samsaric Habit Loops
Dates: Apr 24, 2020 - Apr 26, 2020
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)

Instructor(s): Judson Brewer, Robin Boudette

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We all are vulnerable to the pull of craving (and the push of aversion). Craving is at the very heart of Buddhist teachings, beginning with the Four Noble Truths and permeating nearly every aspect of theory and training. Yet, how does this manifest in modern life? Why do we seemingly get more and more hooked in our current existence, from drinking alcohol or using drugs, to checking email, to reading the news headlines, to yelling at someone in a fit of self-righteous indignation?

Understanding the core underpinnings of how habitual behavior is formed and perpetuated is critical for helping us break out of these cycles. Ancient Buddhist teachings are now lining up surprisingly well with modern-day psychology and neuroscience in their descriptions of the mechanistic underpinnings of samsaric existence–the habitual perpetuation of suffering driven by craving and aversion. Additionally, insights from these “sciences” clearly point to pragmatic tools for awakening, whether waking from a daydream or breaking lifelong addictions. In this course, we will combine lecture, discussion, and experiential practices to carefully unpack our lived experience of craving and how we can step out of our own cycles of suffering that are fueled by it. Topics will range from dependent origination to operant conditioning, to the neuroscience underlying these processes. A key focus of the program will be to learn how ancient wisdom is brought together with modern science and technology in order to develop practical tangible tools that we can use in our own lives, and step out of our own cycles of suffering. Recommended reading: The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Addicted and How We Can Break Unhealthy Habits by Judson Brewer.

Learning Intentions:

To understand the links and parallels between ancient Buddhist models of suffering (e.g. dependent origination) and modern psychological models of habit formation (e.g. reinforcement learning); to learn current behavioral and brain mechanisms underlying how mindfulness training changes habitual and addictive behavior (e.g. smoking, stress eating, anxiety); to learn core elements of what makes a substance, behavior or technology (e.g. social media) “sticky" or addictive;

and to experience linking conceptual learning with direct practice in working with cravings, urges, and habitual behaviors.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

CEU's: The application for 6 continuing education credits for psychologists and social workers has been submitted for this course.   We are not able to offer CEU's for Counselors (NBCC).  Please contact us at (978-355-2347/contact@buddhistinquiry) for the status of CE accreditation. Click here for more information.

  • Judson Brewer MD PhD is a thought leader in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery”, having combined over 20 years of experience with mindfulness training with his scientific research therein. He is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine, and a research affiliate at MIT. A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety. He is the author of The Craving Mind: from cigarettes to smartphones to love, why we get hooked and how we can break bad habits (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

  • Robin Boudette, PhD., clinical psychologist and mindfulness instructor, has practiced yoga and meditation for nearly 20 years. She graduated from the Community Dharma Leader Training Program in 2017. She is a certified MBSR instructor and currently works with Judson Brewer, MD PhD offering evidenced-based mindfulness interventions for habit change. She also facilitates online courses, workshops and retreats around the country. She is especially committed to the practice of life release and is engaged in animal rescue.