Conference on meditation and spirituality set for Oct. 26 - 28

October 17 2007

International, national and local researchers and religious leaders will gather at Indiana State University Oct. 26 - 28 for a conference on “Meditation and Spirituality: Scientific, Conceptual and Applied Perspectives.”

Speakers will include internationally recognized Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, and Philip Gulley, a Quaker pastor and writer who lives in Camby, Ind.

The goal of the conference, according to Jean Kristeller, psychology professor and director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality at Indiana State, is to increase the awareness of how meditation practice and spirituality contriute to psychological and physical health.

In all cultures, meditation and some forms of prayer are recognized to help people cultivate and access their spiritual resources for managing distress and illnesses, Kristeller said.

Tom Johnson, an ISU professor of psychology who has studied spirituality in relation to drinking problems, and is associate director of the center, said, “It is not something that has been studied much. Researchers know that it helps lower blood pressure, it helps with addiction.”

The conference begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 in ISU’s Hulman Memorial Student Union with a free public lecture by Marlatt concerning “Mindfulness-Based Treatment of Addictions: Enhancing Awareness and Spiritual Awakening.”

For Saturday and Sunday, the conference moves to the Landsbaum Center for Health Education, 1433 N. 6 ½ Street.

On Saturday, speakers will address the relation between meditation, prayer and spirituality, including physical healing. Meditation practice sessions from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions willk also be available. Those sessions include labyrinth walking, tai chi and chi gong.

Other sessions include Jill Bormann, a research nurse scientist at the Veterans Administration San Diego Healthcare System, speaking on “Mantram Repetition and Spiritual Well-Being in Combat Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” and Patrick Bennett, assistant professor of psychology and assistant director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, speaking on “Christian Prayer as Contemplative Practice.”

Gulley, an Emmy-award winner and author of the best-selling Harmony novels, is scheduled to address the conference during a free session Saturday evening.

Sunday morning an interfaith contemplative worship service is scheduled at the United Campus Ministries Center. Sessions scheduled for Sunday morning include talks on Hindu and Buddhist thought and Maharishi transcendental meditation as well as using mantra meditation in therapy and how social workers can use spirituality.

“We are quite diverse in the faith traditions that are represented,” Johnson said.

The conference is open to the public as well as health professionals, pastors and chaplains. The cost is $60 for both days or $40 for Saturday and $30 for Sunday. To register, call (812) 237-4101 or 1-800-234-1639. Visit for additional information.

The Center for the Study of Health, Religion, & Spirituality is supported in part by a Local Societies Initiative Grant from Metanexus Institute of Philadelphia. Additional support has been provided by the Lilly Endowment, the ISU Department of Psychology, the ISU College of Arts and Sciences, and the ISU Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The conference is possible through funding from the Fetzer Institute, the Lilly Endowment and ISU’s Department of Psychology.

Contact: Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and director, Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2467 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, (812) 237-7972 or

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The Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality will host a conference on "Meditation and Spirituality: Scientific, Conceptual and Applied Perspectives." The conference will feature international and local researchers.

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