CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE RESEARCH
2022 GRATITUDE REPORT
BALANCING OUR ERA
FATHOM THE MIND. HEAL THE WORLD.®
We transform our world by transforming our minds.
The Center for Contemplative Research has built an unprecedented platform to do just that.
OUR GRATITUDE REPORT
OUR GRATITUDE REPORT
It is created with deep appreciation for all who make our work possible.
Decades in the making, the vision for the CCR is now instantiated in three physical centers with full-time practitioners and a global team of scientists, scholars, teachers, and volunteers dedicated to putting in action the tools that can balance our era.
Ever-steepening odds demand unflagging determination. This 2022 end-of-year report details the progress we have made and the way forward for each of our impact pillars.
What happens when people train full-time to be the Olympic athletes of the mind?
Highly trained contemplatives engage in full-time retreat practice, training the mind in robust, time-tested methods of internal inquiry to gain insights into the defining characteristics of human flourishing and consciousness itself. Practitioners emerge to apply these insights practically in the world, applying their own balanced and healthy minds across disciplines and sectors.
The elegant methods of science can support a more thorough understanding of inner discoveries of contemplative inquiry.
Interdisciplinary scientists conduct rigorous, novel research with contemplatives and publish their results. Studies explore what is widely regarded as a mystery—consciousness itself—in order to make discoveries that transform the way we inhabit our world and cultivate our minds toward balance and health.
These tools are for everyone.
Researchers and subject matter experts across industries develop accessible, widely applicable interventions grounded in contemplative practices and research findings to enable people and organizations to cultivate exceptional mental health, resilience, creativity, and contentment.
Interdisciplinary common ground is a launchpad for sharing wisdom.
Teachers and practitioners alike encourage dialogue across the world’s great scientific, religious, and wisdom traditions, nurturing inter-contemplative dialogue and rediscovering the valuable depths of the world’s diverse traditions.
AMID SCIENTIFIC MAJESTY, A CRISIS OF MODERNITY
Our challenge is not convincing anyone that civilization is at risk.
Our challenge is knowing our minds, and how to change them.
Every problem in human civilization can be traced to mental afflictions.
The problems humanity faces are problems of mind.
We owe it to future generations to bestow faith that change is possible,
by proving that the means for change exists, and concretely showing that human flourishing is within reach.
2022 AT A GLANCE
2022 marks two years of operations for CCR North America, and has brought considerable momentum to CCR initiatives, as the organization has settled in and further developed its physical home in Crestone, Colorado and expanded its global initiatives as well.
CCR’s focus in 2022 has been building, professionalizing, researching, and streamlining. Deliberate focus on building the best team and processes has laid a strong and necessary foundation for future growth across the impact pillars.
UPDATES BY PILLAR
Meditators have been in retreat at Miyo Samten Ling Hermitage in Crestone, CO for over two years.
In 2022, construction commenced on expansion projects aimed at increasing capacity to accommodate a long waitlist of qualified participants and rejuvenating existing aging buildings.
- CABINS: Full renovation of one cabin complete, welcoming incoming retreatants in December 2022. Renovation commenced on a second cabin.
- SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR’S ABODE: CCR team broke ground on this new building, to be occupied by CCR’s Spiritual Director.
- REPAIRS: Upgrades to windows and roofs of existing cabins and chapel complex.
VOICES FROM WITHIN
“The CCR has the most conducive conditions for engaging in long-term retreat I’ve ever seen.”
The CCR’s research at Miyo Samten Ling seeks to fill an enormous gap in scientific understanding of the mind, as the first in the world to examine the impacts of contemplative practice among experienced meditators who have elected to enter full-time retreat over exceptionally long periods and incorporating contemplatives’ first-person reports in study designs. CCR’s science pillar seeks to understand:
- The nature and potential of well-being
- The nature and potential of consciousness
The CCR’s world-class science team helms a variety of ongoing initiatives:
- PILOT STUDY: The first phase of this 45-month study is complete. This is a rare longitudinal study of meditation, and one of longest-running ever conducted. Phase 2 will run through 2024.
- Unique, mixed-method approach: first-person (journaling), second-person (teacher and researcher observation), and third-person (EEG brainwave recordings) data have been collected, and analysis is underway.
- Publication: Initial findings to be submitted for publication in 2023.
- MENTAL BALANCE INITIATIVE (MBI): The MBI develops and researches secular methods for cultivating genuine well-being, based on contemplative wisdom, and elaborating/researching a model that describes the entire spectrum of mental health and disease by measuring hyperactivity, deficit, and dysfunction across the six dimensions of the MBI’s Sixfold Matrix of Mental Balance (see below). Each dimension includes its own contemplative interventions toward correcting imbalance. Two manuscripts by researchers are nearly complete:
- Paper exploring the role that conation, a critical psychological faculty of volition and intention that is often neglected in psychological literature, plays in well-being. The paper discusses how imbalances in one’s conation can disrupt daily functioning and how wise conation can help one survive and find meaning in extremely dire circumstances, and includes qualitative data from CCR’s pilot study.
- Paper mapping the MBI’s Sixfold Matrix to traditional core diagnostic categories of the DSM-5-TR and the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), and calling for acknowledgement of the mind’s primary role in mental health, in order to design better interventions.
- ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH IN CONTEMPLATIVE SCIENCE (ARCS): Development of a micropublication system through which contemplatives can document, share, and publish their discoveries, bringing their work into active conversation with other research literature and developing an enduring corpus of contemplative insight for analysis. Software development of a web application prototype is well underway.
- ADVOCACY: Presentations to a division of the US National Institutes of Health, advocating for awareness of the value of first-person inquiry in the scientific investigation of the mind.
THE SIXFOLD MATRIX OF MENTAL BALANCE
Intentions, desires, aspirations, volition: what we consider worth striving for
Knowing how to act in ways that contribute to social and environmental well-being
Composure, clarity, and sustained, voluntary flow of relaxed attention
The ability to know accurately the world of experience without omission, projection, or distortion
Awareness of our own and others’ behaviors, experiences, and triggers, avoiding extremes of hypersensitivity and apathy
A quality of well-being that carries one through all the vicissitudes of life and death—knowing ourselves and our relation to reality as it is
The huge and interconnected nature of human society and its discouraging trajectory can make it challenging to envision how things could possibly change. Mental well-being is declining across measures, systems rely on a consumerism of distraction and sensation-seeking, addiction abounds, and well-meaning attempts at change often fail.
The CCR postulates that a move toward genuine well-being must start with ethical conduct, grounded in conative self-inquiry made possible by time-tested contemplative tools for exploring inner experience and cultivating resilience, creativity, and contentment.
EDUCATION INITIATIVE: The Mental Balance Initiative develops and tests secular interventions, influenced by the world’s wisdom traditions, that equip people with these tools, which in turn facilitates a healthy society that makes fewer and fewer self-destructive decisions.
- POPULATIONS: Initial groups for curriculum piloting and adoption are adults in positions of influence over young people in group settings:
- Teachers and advanced students (secondary & university)
- Corporate managers in the technology sector
- Eventually, curricula will be tailored for students K–12.
- CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: While mindfulness training oriented around attention training and stress reduction is important, human flourishing must cultivate other key capacities as well. CCR’s curriculum is based on the Sixfold Matrix of Mental Balance, developed by Dr. B. Alan Wallace and already implemented in part in successful training programs deployed globally. Six secular syllabi, already developed, will be adapted into short courses, beginning with a Conation module.
- In-person and digital formats, potentially including open educational resources (OERs) and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), to reach a wide audience swiftly.
- PILOTS: Pilot discussions are underway with schools and corporate parties.
VOICES FROM WITHIN
“Realizing how material desires, or external needs, are diminished when the mind is calm and when it knows itself… How simply we can live when there is genuine inner contentment and fulfilment.”
The world’s diverse traditions have contemplative wisdom and guidance to offer. CCR seeks to encourage a deeper exploration and rediscovery of contemplative practice across traditions, and to forge relationships across disciplines and lineages that explore deep common ground and shared ambition to encourage human flourishing.
In 2022, CCR hosted its first inter-contemplative, interreligious retreat, along with a variety of talks in diverse settings encouraging a Contemplative Renaissance across traditions.
RETREAT: FATHOM THE MIND. HEAL THE WORLD.® This retreat explored interdenominational, inter-contemplative themes:
- Lama Alan Wallace: The Buddhist meditative practices of śamatha and vipaśyanā
- Dr. Anuradha Choudry: Teachings on nonviolence and compassion from the Samkhya/Yoga traditions
- Dr. Eva Natanya: Instruction in the contemplative traditions of Christianity through deep dialogue with Buddhist worldview
TALKS BY CCR CO-FOUNDERS:
- Lama Alan Wallace: “Toward a Renaissance in Contemplative Inquiry within the World’s Religions,” sponsored by the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace
- Lama Alan Wallace: “What Can Buddhism Contribute to Modern Science?” sponsored by the Executive Director of Science for Monks & Nuns’ Foundation, Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, Dharamsala, India
- Dr. Eva Natanya: “Life, Death, and Transformation,” a dialogue with Rev. Cynthia Carter, Dr. Eva Natanya, and Dr. Nigel Hamilton, sponsored by Science & Wisdom LIVE
- Lama Alan Wallace: “Where do theism and nontheism converge?,” a part of the series “Unified Consciousness: One Mind One Heart—The Common Insight of all Spiritual Traditions and of the Greatest Scientists,” sponsored by the World Community for Christian Meditation
- Dr. Eva Natanya: “Re-Encountering Soteriology: The Question of Ultimate Transformation as the Purpose of a Contemplative Path,” keynote address at the International Conference on Mindfulness Asia-Pacific
- Lama Alan Wallace and Dr. Eva Natanya: “Lama Tsongkhapa and the Great Perfection: Views of Emptiness, Dependent Origination, and the Indwelling Mind of Clear Light,” a retreat sponsored by the Centre for Contemplative Research Aotearoa/Asia Pacific
- Dr. Eva Natanya: “Resurrection in Christian Life,” a retreat day for the New Zealand Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM)
VOICES FROM WITHIN
“Every experience in life (the good and bad, joy and sorrow, felicity and adversity) when approached with curious attention and an openness of heart in which there is no attachment or rejection towards it, is an opportunity for personal growth, acquiring wisdom and spiritual development.”
CCR NORTH AMERICA
Your generosity has made the CCR’s progress possible.
2022 Expenses: ~$450k
Preliminary numbers, pending final 2022 accounting
– Operating expenses: Management & general, fundraising, facilities, scientific, applied, dialogic
– Capital expenses: Cabin renovation, new cabin construction, and significant repairs
– Retreatant support: Financial assistance for retreatants facilitating their stay at Miyo Samten Ling, Crestone
2023 Fundraising Target: $1.7M
The CCR is pioneering a new synthesis of exploration in the modern world: one that unites paths mapped by ancient wisdom with incredible contemporary tools of discovery and application.
The existential challenges of coming decades demand that we dig deep to harness human potential and usher in a new era.
At the CCR, we are doing everything we can to empower people across the globe with the conative, ethical, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual tools to make that possible, and the proof that they work.
GROWTH BY PILLAR: 2023 & BEYOND
We can offer people the empirically tested tools to become intentional, confident custodians of balance: of their own minds, of the global ecosystem, and of each other.
CCR Crestone: Infrastructure & capacity expansion
– Complete Spiritual Director’s cabin
– Complete two additional cabins
– Renovate roofing on older cabins
– Repair roads
– Designs for community complex renovation
– Host volunteer workers
– Community complex renovation (chapel, library, offices, kitchen, volunteer dorms, etc.)
– Two additional cabin renovations
– Three new cabins
Research expansion & publication
– Phase 2 proceeds with 12 contemplatives and a new, more sophisticated EEG system
– Submit two papers for publication
Mental Balance Initiative:
– Submit papers on conation and other aspects of the MBI’s conceptual framework
– Collaborate with investigators and educators to design new studies
– Development of a Code of Ethics for Contemplative Science
– Institutional engagement around framework for contemplative science
ARCS: Complete and test software prototype for contemplative micropublications
Community Engagement: Panel & lecture series, journal discussion groups
Resources: Consolidate papers, data, contemplative science documentation into open-access libraries
– Design and complete 2–3 more studies, including both study of contemplatives and well-being research generally
– Ongoing Pilot Study analysis, yielding additional papers for publication
– Full-time team expansion
– Cultivate partnerships and new initiatives with universities and other institutions
– Expand open-access repository for contemplative-science resources, including publications and data
– Broaden acceptance of contemplative science as a scientific discipline
Development & adoption of MBI Education programs
– Complete and pilot Conation module in university and corporate (tech) sectors, with feedback and iteration cycles
– Parallel research of training impact
– Learning management system development (for digital learning)
– Hire project lead, train teachers/volunteers
– Complete curriculum modules for 2–3 additional educational modules
– Finalized curriculum for all six modules
– Full development of both in-person and online learning products
– Curriculum development for K–12 and implementation in schools
– Test and iterate in different business sectors
Retreats, publications, partnerships
– For the teachers and contemplatives who will bring the richness of experience to this conversation, 2023 is a year of retreat
– Ongoing relationship building across traditions, including with the multiplicity of spiritual centers in Crestone, CO
– Cultivation of discussion groups and other community development initiatives around inter-contemplative study and experience
CCR’S GLOBAL REACH
Crestone, Colorado, USA
Matiri Valley, New Zealand
Castellina Marittima, Tuscany, Italy
Scientists, researchers, scholars, teachers, students, advisors, in dozens of countries spanning five continents.
CCR ASIA (Jhampa Ling)
500 acres of pristine land in New Zealand-Aotearoa.
An extraordinary gift from two very generous donors in 2020, this land will become the CCR’s center for meditation and study in the Asia-Pacific region.
Thousands of trees, shrubs, and rocks planted for erosion control; culverts excavated and roads built and repaired; extensive grass hydro-seeding.
Cabin specifications defined (15 cabins) and cost analysis complete, including exploration of climate-appropriate options. Draft cabin renderings complete and permitting process underway.
RETREATS & COMMUNITY TOUR
In November and December 2022, CCR Founders Lama Alan Wallace and Dr. Eva Natanya led a series of talks, retreats, and community meetings, deepening relationships with the local community around Jhampa Ling and institutions across New Zealand and Australia. Four videos exploring themes of science, communication, and education showcased here.
Regional Coordinator Scott Abbott, bringing a wealth of experience in international research dissemination, joined full-time. Also, CCRA welcomes 9 new dedicated members who work in 3 teams: the Land Regeneration and Sustainability Team, the Building Team, and the Fundraising and Giving Team.
LOOKING AHEAD: 2023
- Three cabins to be completed by end of year
- Land manager search underway
- Fundraising goal of US$1.5M for 2023
To learn more, visit the CCRA.
CCR EUROPE (Drölkar Ling)
13 hectares of pristine land in Tuscany, Italy.
Resident contemplatives practice in a villa in the Tuscan countryside, with additional cabins to be built in 2024.
In November 2022, Alfonso Schwartz moved into the role of Regional Coordinator for CCR EU. Alfonso brings extensive management and leadership experience from his career as a media executive and decades of involvement in Buddhist organizations in Europe. In 2023, CCR EU will create new finance and scientific teams to build expansion capacity and craft partnerships with academic and civic entities. The existing villa on the property already hosts aspiring long-term contemplatives.
The center’s Master Plan is moving through the approval process of regional agencies, and we hope to finalize the process in 2023.
Designs for the planned cabins, created by renowned architect Benedetta Tagliabue, have been approved by internal stakeholders. The beautiful, elegant structures will be carefully integrated into the local landscape for maximum sustainability and alignment with the cultural spirit of the region.
CCR EU plans to begin construction in 2024, pending completion of local approval processes.