Joe Loizzo on Meditation Research, Neuroplasticity and Contemplative Science (#25)

My guest in this episode is Dr. Joe Loizzo, who was a recent guest speaker at our conference on Buddhism. The organization Joe founded, the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, was also our sponsor for this conference. It was an honor to talk to Joe about his life story, the latest meditation research, how the academy and the hospital are not comfortable homes for integrated contemplative work, a reappropriated approach to ethics, and how an internal experience of the chakras in personal practice relates to the science of the nervous system. 

More about Joe...

Joe Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D. is a contemplative psychotherapist, clinical researcher, and Buddhist scholar-teacher who integrates ancient contemplative science and technology with current breakthroughs in neuroscience and optimal health. After training in psychiatry at Harvard and completing a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies at Columbia, he founded Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, a non-profit that helps people build sustainable happiness, compassion, and leadership through integrating science-based contemplative skills into their daily lives.

On faculty at the Weill Cornell Center for Integrative Medicine and the Columbia University Center for Buddhist Studies, Dr. Loizzo lectures widely on the role of meditative learning in the future of heath, education, and leadership, and teaches regular public classes and workshops at his Nalanda Institute, and Tibet House US. In 2007, he published Nagarjuna’s Reason Sixty with Chandrakirti’s Commentary, a translation study of contemplative self-analysis in Buddhism. His second book, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration, appeared in the Routledge Behavioral Science Series in 2012. He has published dozens of chapters and articles on contemplative science in peer reviewed books and journals including The Journal of Religion, the Annual Review of Psychiatry, and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Dr. Loizzo has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Gerardine, and their sons Maitreya and Ananda.


  • Joe's personal story and what led him to the study of Buddhism. He mentions how his mother was a Catholic and his father was a psychiatrist and noticed how, with age, his mother got happier but his father got more wore down. He therefore was inspired to seek a blend between science and contemplation. 
  • Neither the academic university nor the hospital was the best place for Joe to do his work, because both are hard places to create the kind of multidisciplinary environment that Joe believes people need. 
  • The modern university came out of the monastery, however in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as the West pulled away from its religious roots, those things that made us better people got thrown out. 
  • The modern culture has given up on human improvement and said "that's just a sentimental project".
  • There's been a shift in popular and professional consciousness to attend to emotion and the fully integrated human being. 
  • The communal element of meditation (the sangha) being an incredible catalyst to help us transform.
  • Some of the latest and most inspiring meditation research. 
  • Neuroplasticity, and the brain as a mediating instrument instead of a determining source of behavior. 
  • Reappropriating ethics and the "art of good living" by saving it from its religious association. 
  • How we are to understand the relationship between the internal experience of the chakras versus the science of the nervous system as it relates to the chakras. 
  • How the science is pointing us toward the possibility of an almost god-like shift in our consciousness. 


 Jacob Kyle, Host of CHITHEADS

Jacob Kyle, Host of CHITHEADS

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