Ways to Evoke Mindfulness for Ethical Conduct

A Preconference Workshop of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology, Basel, 19th August 2013

Ethical behavior requires more than knowing ethical duties and rights and having the ability to reason about the proper balance among conflicting duties and good and bad results. One also needs the moral imagination and intuition to recognize when an impending course of action has a moral dimension. We call this intuitive state "mindfulness."
This workshop will involve presentations on the neuropsychology of ethical behavior and experience to date in cultivating and deploying mindfulness. This includes the use of literature as a means for developing moral intuition. It will also allow participants to try out mindfulness practices and contemplative dialogue.
This workshop will provide an introduction to three mindfulness based practices: contemplative meditation, "focusing", and literary analysis in the context of ethical issues that may arise for environmental health practitioners.

Contemplative Meditation for Ethical Insight- led by Dr Craig Dalton

Contemplating ethical issues within a meditative state is a technique common to many wisdom traditions including Greco-Roman philosophers, Buddhist practitioners and Christian contemplatives. Unfortunately it has been lost from most western schools of philosophy. We will review the neuroscience theory linking meditation with ethical decision making and partake in several contemplative practice sessions during the workshop. An evaluation of the Contemplative Practice in Public Health Program conducted in Australia and Bhutan can be downloaded from here.
Craig Dalton is an Australian Public Health Physician with a 20 year history of working in contested environmental health issues and has a strong interest in conflict resolution and contemplative practice to support ethical decision making. More on his bio here.

Focusing - led by Professor Raymond Neutra

Focussing is a technique for becoming aware of subliminal emotional states and their likely triggers. It relates to being aware when one is faced with a decision with ethical content and subtle emotions are letting us know that this is the case. After a brief introduction to the theory of Focusing, we will consider a range of ethical issues using the Focusing technique.
Raymond Neutra is the director of Neutra Consulting, he retired as Chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control (DEODC) after 27 years at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in 2007, more on his bio here

Literary Analysis - led by Professor Tom Eide

The purpose of using literature as additional material for studying ethics, is that it challenges and actualizes the students' moral conceptions and intuitions, which represents a sort of mindfulness which will assist professional practitioners, leaders, and researchers confronted with questions of complexity, truth and future implications. Professor Eides thesis is summarised in this paper. We will examine Ibsens classic "The Enemy of the People" - a complex scenario entailing a contaminated town water supply, a whistle blower and powerful interest groups. An article describing this complex issue can be found here, please read this before the workshop.
Tom Eide is the Professor of Leadership, Ethics, and Literature, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences Bruskerud University College, Norway. His bio can be found here.

Resources

An excellent introduction to meditation - this video by Mingyur Rinpoche summarises the approach to meditation that will be taken in this workshop - it would be useful to watch this before the workshop.
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