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Craving Mind: Getting Hooked, and Stepping Out of Our Samsaric Habit Loops
Dates: Apr 20, 2018 - Apr 22, 2018
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)

Instructor(s): Judson Brewer

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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. This course will bring together insights from the practice and teaching in clinical work with patients with a range of addictions, and the latest neuroscientific discoveries from the Center for Mindfulness’ research lab to combine conceptual learning with direct experience, in the service of the development of wisdom. 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 (Yale U. Press, 2017)


BCBS will be applying for CEs for this course.  More information will be available here later.
  • Judson Brewer MD PhD is the Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School. He also is adjunct faculty at Yale University, 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 addictions, including both in-person and app-based treatments. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters studying the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI, and source-estimated EEG, and is currently translating these findings into clinical use. 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.