Beginning in the late 1970s, mindfulness moved from the ashram to the laboratory, where researchers began to study its effects on health. Brown has been at the forefront, having formally introduced a contemplative studies initiative and concentration over 10 years ago. Now, Brown is opening a new center for research and public facilitation of mindfulness practices that will work to “increase the quality of the evidence base and promote adoption of well-proven mindfulness practices,” according to a University press release.
The goal of the center is to convene researchers from various disciplines and assemble the data they have collected to “educate consumers on the impacts of mindfulness on mental and physical health,” said the Director of the Center Eric Loucks, associate professor of epidemiology at the School for Public Health.
“There is so much research on mindfulness happening across the country and in Rhode Island that if we can be more organized and connect with one another, we will be so much stronger,” he said.
Locally, the center is affiliated with Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam Hospital. The center will also collaborate with other institutions pursuing similar research across the globe, such as those at Oxford University, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance.
“Each (mindfulness) center has its niche. Ours is that we are housed within a larger center of epidemiology and mental health, so we have a strong emphasis on research and methods,” Loucks said.
The center also brings together many departments on campus. Housed in the School for Public Health, the center’s senior researchers come from a range of backgrounds including behavior and social sciences, psychiatry and human behavior, epidemiology and religious and contemplative studies.
“One of the purposes of the center is to develop mindfulness practices that are available to the larger community in the city and the state,” said Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Contemplative Studies Initiative Harold Roth.
The center aims to make mindfulness-based intervention more accessible to the public through community outreach and education efforts. To further that goal, the Center for Mindfulness will work alongside the Swearer Center for Public Service, Roth said.
“We want to be able to implement intervention for people from all walks of life,” Loucks said.