EVA Alumni Talks

One of our chief missions at Mind & Life Europe has been to actively support the cutting-edge research of scientists, scholars, and clinicians working in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative science, notably through the annual European Varela Awards (EVAs). Now, with the launch of the 'EVA Alumni Talks', we are excited to share some of the most fascinating findings from these research projects with a wider audience. In the inaugural season of this series, we will have the opportunity to hear from alumni whose projects explore a wide range of topics, all with a focus on contemplative approaches to the human mind: from the use of microphenomenology in Anthroposophic meditation, to an in-depth study of the experience of nightmares, to the effectiveness of yoga interventions for depression, to mindfulness-based social and emotional learning protocols in early childhood education. We’ll also hear how the EVA project has helped to shape the longer arc of these researchers’ careers, foster new interdisciplinary collaborations, and encourage novel methodological approaches. We hope you’ll join us for this new adventure, which will be an important step in creating a community to welcome the next generation of contemplative researchers
Each talk will last approximately 45 minutes to an hour, with ample time for discussion and questions at the end (75-90 minutes in total).


Upcoming Webinars 

EVENT TYPETOPIC (click on the title to learn more)EVA ALUMNI SPEAKERDATE
Public Webinar on Zoom

"Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms"

This event will be live-streamed on the MLE YouTube channel.

Register here!

Nina Vollbehr, MSc.

December 8th

18:00 CET



Nina Vollbehr: "Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms"

  • Date and time: December 8th, 2022 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Nina Vollbehr
  • Topic of the webinar: "Yoga for depression: effects and potential working mechanisms"
  • Click here to register!

In the fourth talk of this series, Nina Vollbehr will discuss the effects and potential working mechanism of Yoga for deprression. Yoga is increasingly used by individuals as a means of treating depression. Given its combination of exercise and meditative practices, yoga may be well-suited to treat mood disorders. However, previous research is often criticized for methodological limitations that make it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of yoga interventions. In this talk Nina Vollbehr will present several studies that examine the potential effects and working mechanisms of yoga for depression. The presentation will begin with a meta-analysis of existing evidence on the effectiveness of hatha yoga for (chronic) mood disorders. Second, a lab study is presented that was designed to assess whether a 2-week yoga intervention reduces symptoms of depression in a sample of undergraduate students and whether these benefits may be partially mediated by rumination. After this, a feasibility study is presented in which a 9-week mindful yoga intervention was designed and tested for acceptability and potential effects and working mechanisms in a group of 12 patients with chronic mood disorders. Last, the results of a randomized controlled trial are presented in which 171 young women with major depressive disorder were assigned to a 9-week mindful yoga intervention added to treatment as usual versus treatment as usual only.


Nina Vollbehr, MSc is a psychologist at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in Groningen. She works as a clinician as well as a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. She holds a MSc degree in clinical psychology from the University of Utrecht as and is licensed as a registered mental health psychologist in the Netherlands. She is also a RYT 500 registered yoga teacher.

Her research focuses on yoga for (chronic) mood disorders and potential mechanisms such as rumination and self-compassion. She was awarded the Mind & Life Varela Award in 2015 for her research on yoga for young women with depression.


Previous webinars

EVENT TYPETOPIC (click on the title to learn more)EVA ALUMNI SPEAKERDATE
Public Webinar on Zoom

"Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model"

This event was live-streamed on the MLE YouTube channel.

Click here to watch the recording!

Josipa Mihic, Ph.D.

November 24th

18:00 CET

Public Webinar on Zoom

"Experiencing and Healing Nightmares"

This event was live-streamed on the MLE YouTube channel.

Click here to watch the recording!

Michelle Carr, Ph.D.

October 20th

18:00 CEST

Pubic Webinar on Zoom

“First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”

This event was live-streamed on the MLE YouTube channel.

Click here to watch the recording!

Terje Sparby, Ph.D.

September 22nd

18:00 CEST



Dr. Josipa Mihic: "Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model"

  • Date and time: November 24th, 2022 at 18:00 CET
  • Speaker: Dr. Josipa Mihic
  • Topic of the webinar: "Towards a Caring & Mindful Schools Model"
  • Click here to watch the recording!

In the third talk in this series, Dr. Mihic will discuss the findings from her research that examines if the introduction of empirically-tested MAPS (mindful awareness practices) to all school personnel improves school climate and has a positive impact on the wellbeing and prosocial behavior of personnel and students.

Josipa Mihic, is an associate professor and head of the Department of Behavioral Disorders at the study program of Social Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb.She teaches courses in the field of mental health promotion and prevention science at the graduate and postgraduate level. As a co-founder of a Laboratory for Prevention Research (PrevLab) she has been involved in multiple international projects focused on prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral problems of children and youth and mental health promotion. Her areas of research focus are promotion of socio-emotional learning and mental health of children and adults in education, prevention of behavioral problems, effects of mindfulness/meditative practices on positive development of individuals (involving mindfulness apps), positive youth development, and role of compassion and self-compassion in preventing behavioral problems and mental health promotion. She is a co-founder of the national platform for the promotion of meditative activities for children and teachers – minimindfulness. She was trained in Gestalt psychotherapy at The European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT) and works as a children and adults’ psychotherapist at the Teaching and Clinical Center of the Faculty.


Dr. Michelle Carr: "Experiencing and Healing Nightmares"


In the second talk in this series, Dr. Carr will discuss her research path exploring neurocognitive, experiential, and therapeutic aspects of dream science, with a specific emphasis on nightmares and nightmare treatment.

She will outline a theoretical model of nightmare disorder as associated with impaired emotion regulation at both neural and cognitive levels, across waking and sleeping states. Then she will present findings from her in-depth EVA-funded study on the neurophenomenology of nightmares, including novel evidence that nightmare-prone individuals are highly sensitive to a range of sensory and emotional experiences, which may underlie their intensified dreaming. Dr. Carr will present insights from phenomenological interviews with nightmare sufferers, and describe intentional practices for healing nightmares by working with dreams in the waking and dreaming state. She will also present her current work on lucid dreaming – designed to bring agency and self-awareness into dreaming – as a promising treatment for nightmares.

Michelle Carr, Ph.D., is Co-Director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory (starting 2023) in the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine, Montreal, and Adjunct Research Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Montreal. She studies the relationship between dreams and mental health, with particular interest in nightmares, lucid dreams, and new techniques in dream engineering.

Dr. Terje Sparby: "First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”

  • Date and time: September 22nd, 2022 at 18:00 CEST
  • Speaker: Dr. Terje Sparby
  • Topic of the webinar: "First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation”
  • Click here to watch the recording!

The first talk in this new series took place on Thursday, September 22nd at 6pm CEST, by EVA alumni Dr. Terje Sparby, entitled “First-Person Methods in Contemplative Science: Micro-phenomenology, Anthroposophy, and the Stages of Meditation.”

In this talk Dr. Sparby described the unfolding of a research endeavor based on the idea of a first-person approach to contemplative science. He outlined a philosophical framework for this approach, showing how it has been influenced by research on Anthroposophic meditation, and giving examples of how first-person methods can contribute to current research on meditation and contemplative development. The guiding idea and motivation behind this approach is that it is possible to involve oneself fully as a practitioner in the research one does. A meditator’s exploration of the process of awakening does not have to be separate from their scientific search for truth and their commitment to intellectual rigor. The research that he presented is based on previous work done as a visiting scholar at the Mind & Life Institute in the US and work supported by his Mind & Life Europe, European Varela Award, awarded to him in 2014.

Terje Sparby, PhD is a philosopher and meditation researcher. His main areas of research are German idealism, consciousness, and phenomenological or first-person methods. He studied philosophy at the University of Oslo and received his PhD in philosophy at Heidelberg University in 2012. The topic was Hegel’s conception of the determinate negation. He has been a postdoc at Humboldt University and the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging. He has also been a visiting scholar at the Mind & Life Institute and collaborated with researchers part of Varieties of Contemplative Experience project. He did his habilitation at the Witten/Herdecke University, co-organises the First-Person Science of Consciousness conference. Currently, he is a professor of philosophy at the Steiner University College in Oslo. He is a member of IBAP (Integriertes Begleitstudium Spirituelle und Anthroposophische Psychologie) and the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, and collaborates with the The Meditation Research Group at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.