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Mind-Body Health

HON 298 - Professor Tashi Rabten

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis

Course Description:

This course provides an intellectual and experiential introduction to the philosophies and practices of Integrative Medicine and its emphasis on Psychological and Spiritual dimensions of Whole System Theories. Topics include: Integrating Mindful Awareness, Self-Care, Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Health and Healing, chiefly arising from Tibetan Buddhism, in both traditional and contemporary practices.

This course is an opportunity to delve into the theory and practice of mindfulness and compassion in action. This course covers healthy ways to deal with stress and daily human problems that are a normal part of life, as well as how to deal with disruptive crises across the lifecycle.

As an Integrative Health learning community, we examine the contributions of contemporary Buddhism to whole system well-being. For example, as western neuroscience seeks to understand how meditation “works,” we look at the evidence and debate as to what extent this scrutiny may validate the merits of meditation practice. Alternatively, how might scientific methodological explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it?   How do these studies make sense in light of modern psychology? 

Students will learn about emotions as measures and evidence of “mind/body connection.” Under stress, anxiety, or crisis, human bodies signal that something is not right. For example, people might develop high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one. Poor emotional health can weaken the body’s immune system. This may create immune system vulnerabilities that create conditions where one is more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally challenging times. Further, when one feels stressed, anxious, or upset, care of one’s overall health and well-being may not be optimal. Under stress, one may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods, or taking medicine that a doctor prescribes. There may result an over-reliance on alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Students will learn the path to improved health through mindfulness and compassion training at the individual level as well as how these practices may be built into cultures and communities.  The course provides training in mindfulness and compassion as everyday supports in recovery from life’s frustrations. Participants in the course will engage in experiential learning exercises that target the development of mindfulness and compassion.