Mindfulness and Cognitive Science

Subject Overview

 The subject “Mindfulness and Cognitive science” examines the foundations as well as some of most recent developments in the field of cognitive science – a rapidly growing area of research, integrating insights from a broad spectrum of disciplines concerned with the study of human mind.

 The aim of the subject is to put this relatively young research project vis a vis the two and a half millennia old Buddhist endeavour of exploration in the same area.

 The subject begins with an interdisciplinary overview of the so called “paradigms” of cognitive science, each of them representing one of the basic views on the nature of mind. The following paradigms are examined:

  • Information-processing paradigm
  • Cognitivistic paradigm
  • Embodied cognition
  • Phenomenology

The latter position is explored in more detail: some of the most recent developments in the area of the study of lived human experience are examined (theoretically and experientially). Together, the students will investigate how modern science of lived experience relates to Buddhist studies of the same subject. By studying research papers, cases, and personal accounts and through inquiry into personal experiences, they will be encouraged to compare, validate and critically examine methods and insights of both cultures.

The subject will examine intersections of mindfulness meditation and scientific studies of consciousness. Students will be encouraged to compare and reflect on the validity of knowledge obtained by both paths. Special attention will be drawn to parallels between mindfulness and phenomenological reduction.


Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental concepts of cognitive science
  • Understand specifics of main paradigms in the area of scientific research of human mind and is able to integrate partial (disciplinary) pieces of knowledge into more coherent holistic notion of cognitive processes
  • Demonstrate insight and practical acquaintance with scientific methods of research of lived human experience (empirical phenomenology)
  • Understand mindfulness practices from the neuroscientific and phenomenological point of view
  • Explore and develop a personal understanding of parallels, benefits, and drawbacks of both paths to understanding human mind – Western-scientific and Buddhist 

Subject Structure

This subject runs for five weeks, with the following structure:

Week 1: Pre-reading of prescribed texts
Week 2:  Digital Intensive Classroom (5 days x 8 hrs/day)
Weeks 3 – 5: Submission of assessments online



Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a private, not for profit, government accredited higher education provider offering studies in the areas of Buddhist studies, health and wellbeing, within an environment that incorporates contemplative education.

NTI offers postgraduate programs in Applied Buddhist Studies, Health and Social Wellbeing, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mental Health as well as customised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and special interest subjects across the areas of meditation, mindfulness and health.