Monthly Archives: January 2016

Mindfulness: there’s an app for that

By Gabe Jaffe Mindfulness apps

Mindfulness practice has been scientifically shown to decrease anxiety, improve sleep, heighten productivity, and increase overall sense of well-being. Apps can help us attain these benefits by providing structure and guidance to our practice. We tried out the most popular mindfulness apps and chose our favorites to recommend to you.

For the beginner: Headspace walks you through your entire mindfulness journey step-by-step. Narrator Andy Puddicombe teaches you the basics of mindfulness and then slowly introduces longer and more advanced meditations. After completing a 30-day foundation course, users can choose themed packs in areas such as “anxiety” and “creativity.” To keep you on track, the app displays your progress and sends reminders to sit as designated times. You can try it out for 10 days for free, and afterwards it is $14 per month or $93 for the year.

(Note: “Calm” provides a less polished but similar experience to Headspace for only $10/month or $40/year.)

For the occasional user: Stop, Breathe, and Think is for those who would rather meditate spontaneously than have a regimented practice. When you log in, the app asks how you are feeling and suggests meditations that match your mood. Most of the app’s services are free, and you can purchase bonus guided meditations like “Falling Asleep and “Dealing with Anxiety” for a dollar or two each.

For children: Smiling Mind is a mindfulness app with services specifically geared toward children. Mom and Dad can rejoice, too, because the app is completely free.

For the intermediate or advanced: Insight Timer offers 1000 guided meditations from teachers in the mindfulness and Buddhist communities. It also includes a customizable, virtual bell with options like “ring every 5 minutes during 25-minute meditation.” Furthermore, users can join discussion groups to support their practice on topics like “Poetry and Meditation” or “Women Meditate Worldwide.”

For staying present off the meditation cushion: ChillInstead of guiding formal meditation practice, this app sends the user “Mindfulness Reminders” to come back to the present moment throughout the day. Additionally, Chill provides a unique quote to enjoy and contemplate every day.

February 15th is the deadline to submit proposals for the EIRAAR 2016 annual meeting

Faculty, students, independent scholars and professionals are invited to submit proposals (for panels and individual papers) for the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion (EIRAAR) annual meeting.

globalizing humanitiesAlongside the regular panels, the conference will include a series of special sessions on the theme of “Globalizing the Human(ities).” With this theme, organizers hope to engage questions of how interdisciplinary and historical humanities research can be done in an increasingly global age.

Submissions for screening original documentary films and shorts on religion are also invited for the first time this year.

The conference, being held at the University of Pittsburgh, will end with a round-table discussion about how to incorporate a global perspective into research on religion.

Prizes for the best graduate and undergraduate paper will be awarded.

Conference date: May 6-7, 2016
Conference details:
Contact for information:
Center Members – both Pitt researchers and grad students – interested in submitting or forming a panel can also contact the Center’s associate director David Givens directly at

Mind and Life 1440 Awards

From the Mind & Life Institute

8fd64a52-0665-41b3-afe8-0efc6a1d23e0Through a partnership with the 1440 Foundation, the Mind & Life Institute is pleased to offer the Mind and Life 1440 Awards. These awards are intended to promote scientific research that evaluates whether and how contemplative practice can promote inner well-being and healthy relationships in a variety of settings, with a particular interest in evaluating the application of contemplative practices in educational contexts (K-12 preferred). By enabling high-level research in the area of social and relational outcomes of contemplative practice, the 1440 Awards aim to expand the applications and impact of contemplative practices in the world.

Grants of up to $15,000 will be awarded through a competitive application, review and selection process. The 1440 Awards are open to any academic researchers, although we seek to specifically promote the careers and development of young investigators such as graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. To apply, please submit the required materials between January 4 – February 5, 2016, through the online application on our website.

For more information and FAQ, please see

The full RFP can be found at

Questions may be sent to

Center consolidates mindfulness activities

From the University Times online…

The ancient practice of mindfulness, which emphasizes observing and focusing on the present moment, increasingly is being recognized for its value in promoting physical and mental health and as an aid to attention and learning. It’s been present in many forms on campus, but only recently became the basis for a University-wide center.

After a year of planning, with funding from the Office of the Provost and broad-based support, the Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies (CMCS) has opened with a mission to “promote scholarship, creativity and well-being through mindfulness research, education, collective practice, and clinical and community service.”

CMCS aims to foster research collaborations, support the use of mindfulness in educational curriculums and promote mindfulness practice as a tool for wellness through “cores” in research, education and service.

Housed in the Graduate School of Public Health, where center director Anthony Silvestre is a faculty member, the University-wide center is funded by the Office of the Provost with additional support from the School of Medicine, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the School of Education, Falk School and the departments of English and religious studies in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Read the full article on the University Times.