2017 Abstracts and Presenters

Challenges of practicing compassion in today’s World

Even though our world today rules by advanced modern experts in education and technology, compassion that has roots in every culture should play a vital role in every field, particularly in human society starting from individual, to a global scale. Although, there is no question how precious and valuable once being compassionate person, the question for us is: What does compassion mean? And how and in what way should we be compassionate person. Problems and difficulties that we have to face in everyday life are due to lack of skills in how to put compassion into action. It is not easy to put everything we know about compassion intellectually into practice, but we should keep trying and never give up our practice. Study on the subject of compassion is a great step to moving toward the betterment of oneself and others. The beauty of mother’s love and compassion shown to her child is the best example of how to be a compassionate person, but in a deeper level, compassion should reach out also to those who hurt you.

Tenzin Lhadron, Jamyang Choling Institute, Dharamsala

Tenzin Lhadron was born in 1977 in the Zanskar valley of Ladakh, located in the northern region of India in Jammu and Kashmir State. In 2005, after more than 17 years, Lhadron completed her formal monastic education at Jamyang Choling Institute in Dharamsala. Geshe Chopa Tenzin Lhadron, was one of the first 20 Tibetan nuns to receive the equivalent of a PhD in Buddhist studies from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tenzin Lhadron has participating in a number of international conferences and seminars in Asia, Europe, North America, and conferences on Tibetan religion and the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism here in India. From 2009 to 2013, she attended an intensive 1-month science workshops organized by the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, as well as workshops organized by Science for Monks. Tenzin Lhadron has served in the Jamyang Choling Institute administration for many years, including seven years as the secretary or assistant director, two years as the accountant, a year as the disciplinarian, and a year as the chant leader.

Compassion & Loving Kindness: Well- Being of Indian Elderly Rural Women

In a recent research, it has been reported that about 40.74% rural elderly women were slightly happy and satisfied with life (0-4 score); 41.22% of women were moderately happy and satisfied with life (5-7 score) and 18.04% women were highly happy and satisfied in life (8-10 score) at Cantril ladder`s happiness and satisfaction questions (0-10 scale). Elderly rural women cited several socio-cultural factors/ reasons such as health issues faced either by themselves or a family member, death of spouse or male member (son or grandson), poor financial/economic household conditions, lack of earning family member/unemployment, daughter becoming a widow at an early age, alcohol consumption habits of son and spouse, inability of self to cope with loss of spouse, worried about one’s own deteriorating health, inability to attend religious activities, and an uncertain future as cause of low level of well- being. Rural women, who scored high level on happiness and satisfaction, their responses were more positive and satisfactory such as children`s employment and financial stability, children respected elders, there was presence of cordial relationships amongst family members as well as with neighbours, joyful family circumstances, settled family, good economic conditions, residing in joint family, sense of belongingness, faith in God and it helped them face problems. Some women were highly contended, satisfied with social relations and they gained strength from their family, as facilitators of well-being. In another research, A rural religious practice -Satsang (singing religious folk songs in a group) has been explored and we observed that practitioners perceived that they were free from stressors during singing, healthier interpersonal relations, form of entertainment, strong social support, women’s visit outside their homes, active involvement in pro-social behavior (as group makes joint donations in orphanages, widow homes and other similar places), sharing problems with age mates during the satsang (group gathering). Another research revealed that Spiritual/Religious existing practices were more effective than designed and delivered intervention programmes. Broadly, findings from the field (rural community) would be discussed in the presentation.

Kamlesh Singh, International Positive Psychology Association

Kamlesh Singh, Ph D (Psychology), joined IIT Delhi in 2004. Her main area of interest is Positive Psychology – How positive psychology`s constructs are correlated with each other, effect of socio- demographic factors, psychological testing, development and validation of intervention modules in different sectors of population etc. She has to her credit 70 published papers in peer reviewed national and international journals and 14 book chapters. With her ongoing teaching and various research projects in positive psychology, she is also on board of directors of the International Positive Psychology Association. She is the Secretary of National Positive Psychology Association (India).

Science of Compassion Based Meditation To Promote Mental Health

Cultivating compassion and building strong relationships with others are necessary for our survival and well-being. Extending compassion to our loved ones and those close to us is usually much easier than extending compassion to those outside our inner circle. The ability to soften the boundaries as to whom we extend compassion is a skill that can be trained using compassion meditation. Extending compassion to oneself and others has shown to be beneficial to mental health and well-being. This presentation aims to describe: (1) compassion and its benefit; (2) Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a compassion meditation protocol inspired by Lojong practice; and (3) current evidence to support compassion meditation, CBCT, as a means to promote mental health and well-being.

Melissa D Pinto, Assistant Professor at Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Melissa D. Pinto, PhD, RN, FSAHM, FAAN, is an Assistant Professor at Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Prior to joining Emory in 2013, she completed a 4 year NIH KL2 Career Development Award through the Cleveland Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Here, she received cutting-edge training in multidisciplinary clinical research. Dr. Pinto has expertise in the area of adolescent and young adult behavioral health, self-management of depressive symptoms, and complementary behavioral interventions to alleviate depressed mood. Her innovative approach to behavioral health for young adults has been recognized nationally. Further, she has provided consultation to national policymakers regarding behavioral health technologies and their dissemination. Dr. Pinto is a Fellow of Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Understanding Anasakti (non-attachment) and its Relationship with Mental Health

Anasakti or non-attachment as a psychological quality has been greatly emphasized in the traditional Indian philosophy, ranging from Samkhya-Yoga school to Buddhism. In modern psychology, few studies have been conducted exploring how it is related to good mental health. It was found that anasakti/ non-attachment is associated with better ability to manage stress, better health (Pande & Naidu 1992) and also with self-compassion, positive relationships along with higher well-being (Sahdra, Shaver & Brown, 2010). In a series of studies, we explored the phenomenon of anasakti, which would be discussed along with its implications, during the presentation.

Jyotsna Agrawal, National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.

Jyotsna Agrawal is an Assistant Professor in the Positive Psychology unit, Department of Clinical Psychology, at National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. Prior to NIMHANS she served as a faculty at Indian Institute of Technology, Patna, as a Research Officer at Community Empowerment Lab, Lucknow and as a Senior Officer at Tata Motors Ltd, Jamshedpur. She has M.Phil and Ph.D degrees in clinical psychology from National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. She was awarded Fogarty postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University, School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA and another postdoctoral fellowship at S-VYASA Yoga University, Bangalore. Her research interests include positive psychology, preventive and promotive approaches towards public mental health, psychotherapy, Indian psychology and yoga. She is currently studying wisdom and wellbeing, with respect to traditional Indian concepts of Anaskti (non-attachment), Brahmaviharas (four immeasurables), Ahamkara (egoism) and Triguna (Indian model of personality). She has several publications in the field and is also supervising M.Phil and Doctoral level research in this area.

The Science of a Meaningful Life: Awe, Purpose, and Gratitude

Over the last 20 years, our scientific understanding of human development has skyrocketed—and it’s creating a paradigm shift in how we shape our lives. Indeed, researchers have discovered that cultivating prosocial qualities such as awe, purpose, and gratitude lead to greater health, happiness, and connection to humanity. In this talk, Dr. Zakrzewski gives an introduction to these three keys to a meaningful life, offering a brief scientific perspective on how they are defined, studied, and strengthened through real-life techniques.

Vicki Zkrzewski, Greater Good Science Center

Vicki Zakrzewski, PhD, is the education director of the Greater Good Science Center. Her articles (GGSC Magazine, Huffington Post, Edutopia, and ASCD’s Educational Leadership), talks, workshops, and GGSC Summer Institute for Educators around the world provide science-based ideas for promoting the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers, and administrators, as well as methods for creating positive school cultures. Examples of her recent consulting work for incorporating the life-enhancing science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, awe, and other social-emotional skills include: the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow), the Jim Henson Company on a new television show for preschoolers, the International School of Brussels on the Common Ground Collaborative character curriculum, the International School of Bangkok and Palo Alto Unified School District on integrating social-emotional learning into their work, and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide—a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out. A former teacher and school administrator, Vicki earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. In her doctoral research, Vicki spent two months in India at a school awarded the Peace Education Prize by UNESCO and the Hope of Humanity Award by the Dalai Lama, researching their methods for developing teachers’ ability to create caring relationships with students. She’s previously worked with Kaiser Permanente’s award-winning Educational Theatre Programs, the Ball Foundation’s story project for personal transformation which helped bring systemic change to school districts, as a children’s playwright for a worldwide humanitarian non-profit, and as a curriculum developer.

Spirituality, Spiritual Practices and Well-Being

Spirituality enhances well-being is an established scientific finding. In India several spiritual practices are followed such as Satsang, Brahmakumaris, Radha Swomi, ISKCON et al. It is observed that followers of such practices possessed better scores on health indicators, quality of life and well-being. However, collecting scientific data is often challenging thus, resulting in lack of scientific documentation. As a solution to the data collection, main stream psychology does suggests ways to study these groups few techniques from sociology such as diary writing, documenting experiential learnings, ethnographic study from a first-hand experience or experiential discourse among practitioners or master followers from a second-hand experience can be undertaken. Studies also need to document the impact of these practices on people’s mental health.

Mohita Junnarkar, Assistant Director at Jindal Insists of Behavioral Sciences, O. P. Jindal Global University

Mohita Junnarkar currently working as Assistant Director at Jindal Insists of Behavioral Sciences, O. P. Jindal Global University. She completed her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from IIT Bombay in 2013. She has about 4.5 years of research experience and 2 years of teaching experience. She has completed post-doctoral fellowship in the area of positive psychology focusing on assessment and validation of psychological scales from IIT Delhi in 2014. Her key teaching areas are applied positive psychology, psychometrics, adolescent development and cognitive psychology and her research areas are eyewitness testimony, psychometrics, and adolescent development. Currently in the area of eyewitness testimony she is investigating “how can eyewitness memory accuracy be enhanced and what is the difference in neuronal pathways for correct identification and misidentification by eyewitness?” in the field of adolescent development she is seeking answers to “how to identify the early signs of languishing mental health of adolescent at home and in school and how to communicate effectively with adolescents on day-to-day basis so that they flourish? Apart from seeking answers to these questions, she is also interested to explore the role of spirituality and wisdom in adolescent’s mental health and how smaller nuances of spirituality can be reached out to adolescents. She has published about 14 research papers in national and international peer reviewed indexed journals in the area of psychometric validation of positive psychology constructs and has a book chapter and two books to her credit. Currently, she is also serving as a reviewer for Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology.

Cultivating Social Emotional Skills in Children – Starting Young for Best Outcomes

Social emotional skills have an important place in positive psychology intervention literature. The importance of social and emotional skills as well as different approaches to nurture these in classrooms (e.g. Gratitude, Character Strengths, Mindfulness) will be discussed.  We would look at the great potential of this field owing to neuroplasticity of the human brain. Further, findings from recent research involving classroom based programs will be shared. In conclusion, an open exchange is invited about how we could enhance these skills in youth with contributions from spiritually evolved practitioners and community.

Pulkit Khanna, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT- Delhi)

Pulkit Khanna completed her PhD with a specialization in Positive Psychology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT- Delhi). She went on to pursue a certification in Positive Psychology (Research, Education and Application in Community Health) from NIMHANS, Bangalore. Her doctoral research pertained to classroom based interventions among Indian school students, which saw her engage in research and implementation of programs across diverse school settings. Her core interests lie in the area of well-being and positive youth development, particularly gratitude and character strengths. She has presented as well as published her research at various national and international platforms including the International Positive Psychology Association over the past few years. She did her Masters (Psychology) from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Presently, she is engaged with the area of social emotional learning and emotional intelligence – development and facilitation of programs for education and organization settings. Besides working in the academic domain, she also garnered exposure to the corporate setting during her stint as a Human Resources professional.