This Saturday the University of Virginia will host an interdisciplinary conference on “Contemplation and Medicine in South Asia and Beyond” featuring faculty from four U.Va. schools, along with visiting scholars from Iowa, New Mexico, India and Switzerland.
The conference is free and open to the public, and will take place in the School of Architecture’s Campbell Hall, room 153, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The conference will feature panel discussions on three topics:
• “Yoga and Ayurveda in Premodern South Asia,” at 9 a.m.
• “Mindfulness, Compassion and Ayurveda in Contemporary Clinical Care and Research,” at 11:15 a.m.
• “Healing Places: Contemplation and the Built Environment,” at 3:15 p.m.
The final panel will feature three U.Va. School of Architecture faculty members – Phoebe Crisman, Peter Waldman and Reuben Rainey – moderated by the school’s dean, Kim Tanzer, who noted that links between design and health are a research focus for the school.
Crisman, associate dean for research at the School of Architecture, will discuss how spaces designed to prompt people to pause and reflect – from Gothic cathedrals to the Pantheon to Indian Buddhist temples – support contemplation.Waldman, who co-directs the school’s India Initiative with Crisman, will share how the five-year project, now in its second year, is “learning from traditional settlements and traditional architecture and the smart sustainability strategies they have employed for thousands of years,” Crisman said.
Rainey, co-director of the school’s Center for Design and Health, launched in May 2011, and longtime teacher of a class on “Healing Spaces,” will share research findings on the impact landscape has on healing. For instance, hospital patients with views of a park-like setting outside their windows took fewer medications and were released earlier.
“This conference is part of promoting a broader consideration of contemplation, health and wellness in our daily lives,” Crisman said.
The conference is co-sponsored by U.Va.’s Contemplative Sciences Center and South Asia Center, said the latter’s director, John Nemec, associate professor of religious studies and the conference’s lead organizer.
The conference will be preceded by a “Gurus on Grounds” public yoga practice and lecture session on Friday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the John Paul Jones Arena, in the Women's Practice Gymnasium.
The event will be led by Sharath Jois and Saraswathi Jois, grandson and daughter of legendary guru Shri K. Patthabi Jois, founder of modern-day Ashtanga Yoga. They will lead an hour-long yoga session, followed by a brief talk on the health and well-being benefits of this ancient contemplative system, said event organizer David Germano, associate professor of Tibetan and Buddhist studies.
The event is free for all full-time U.Va. students, faculty and staff. Registration is not required and admission will be first-come, first-served. A free commemorative T-shirt will be given to the first 300 participants. No prior experience with yoga practice is required.