Noted neuroscientist, brain scan researcher and meditator Sara Lazar, PhD will join the faculty of The American Meditation Institute (AMI) for a 30-credit-hour mind/body medicine Continuing Medical Education (CME) conference on meditation, gentle yoga and diaphragmatic breathing for physicians and other health care professionals on October 24-28 at the Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox, Mass.

Entitled “The Heart and Science of Yoga,” this comprehensive training, accredited through the Albany Medical College Office of Continuing Medical Education is designed to help relieve physician stress and burnout.

Now in its ninth year of providing physicians continuing medical education credits, this unique curriculum of Yoga Science as holistic mind/body medicine will present an indepth study of practical meditation and yogic skills designed to help relieve physician and patient burnout by reducing their allostatic load — the physiological consequences of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine responses resulting from chronic stress.

Presenter Sara Lazar, Ph.D., is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and an Associate Researcher in the Psychiatry Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Sara Lazar is a board member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy and is a contributing author to “Meditation and Psychotherapy.” As a leading neuroscientist in the field, her team was the first to show how meditation and yoga influence both brain structure and human behavior.

Dr. Lazar has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1994. The focus of her scientific research is to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of meditation and yoga, both in clinical settings and in healthy individuals. One main focus of her work has been to determine how meditation and yoga influence brain structure, and how these changes influence behavior.

In Lazar’s 2005 study, her team was the first to show how long-term meditation practice correlates with cortical thickening in brain areas associated with attention, sensory processing, and interoception (the awareness someone has about the physiological state of their body). In Lazar’s 2011 paper, she found that people who learned meditation for the first time in an eight-week course had increases in gray matter concentration in areas of the brain associated with “learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”

Dr. Lazar’s participation at this year’s “Heart and Science of Yoga” conference will include a lecture entitled “Meditation and Neuroplasticity.” In describing her research, Dr. Lazar explains that, “We use neuroimaging techniques to study neurological, cognitive and emotional changes associated with the practice of meditation and yoga. We also incorporate measures of peripheral physiology, such as breathing and heart beat, in order to understand how meditation practice influences the brain-body interaction.”

The entire curriculum of this CME conference is dedicated to providing quality, comprehensive and evidence-based education to physicians and other health care providers on Yoga Science as mind/body medicine. In addition to neuroplasticity, topics this year will include mantra meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, Yoga Psychology, the chakra system as a diagnostic tool, mind function optimization, trauma, PTSD, relieving physician burnout, resilience, Functional Medicine, Epigenomics, Ayurveda, easy-gentle yoga and lymph system detoxification.
According to last year’s attendee, Janine Pardoe MD, Board Certified Internist of Wellesley, Mass., “This was my second time I attended this conference. It’s been the most influential factor in transforming my life and medical practice.  It should be a medical school requirement.”

Recent graduate Joel M. Kremer, M.D., Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and practicing in Albany, NY, described his experience with the conference as follows: “This teaching has been an enormous benefit in my personal and professional life. I have less stress, more focus, and am able to serve my patients with greater clarity. It becomes surprisingly easy now to recognize the many clinical situations in which patients with somatic manifestations of ‘dis-ease’ could greatly benefit from Yoga Science.”

The American Meditation Institute is a non-profit educational organization devoted to the teaching and practice of Yoga Science, meditation and its allied disciplines as mind/body medicine. In its holistic approach to wellness, AMI combines the healing arts of the East with the practicality of modern Western science.  The American Meditation Institute offers a wide variety of classes, retreats, and teacher training programs. AMI also publishes Transformation, a bi-monthly journal of meditation as holistic mind/body medicine. Call 518.674.8714 for a mail or email subscription.

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