The Science of Contemplative Practice and the Practice of Contemplative Science


The Science of Contemplative Practice and the Practice of Contemplative Science

An ACMHE webinar with Aaron Godlaski
Originally broadcast March 29th, 2:00-3:00pm ET
Watch the Video Recording | Download the Slides (.pdf)


How best do we connect the pedagogy of contemplative practices with the scholarship of contemplative studies? Should we treat research and practice as dichotomy, or dialectic? In the interest of coming to a fuller understanding of how this affects the way we conduct ourselves and engage with one another as a community of practitioner-scholars, this webinar will explore two areas: the science of contemplative practice and the practice of contemplative science.

Using my own successes and failures (with perhaps a greater focus on failures) in conducting research on contemplative practice and pedagogy, I hope to illustrate some of the important considerations and potential pitfalls of conducting this research at a small liberal arts institution. I also hope to illustrate that the field of contemplative studies is in a unique philosophical position to approach failure in research as being equally valid and informative as success. Thirdly, I will present recent research on the science of contemplation that aims to better organize how we describe these complex and deeply personal practices. My purpose here is to offer some new manners of speaking about contemplative practice that can both expand our understanding and capacity to conduct scholarship and research as well as serve as skillful means for communicating with our colleagues and administrators in the interest of connecting with and affecting our campus communities.


About the Presenter

Aaron GodlaskiAaron Godlaski, PhD serves as Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Dr. Godlaski completed his graduate training in Clinical Psychology at the University of Kentucky, where he studied alcohol-related aggression, and focused on mindfulness-based and existential-integrative approaches to treatment. He completed his clinical residency at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, specializing in Clinical Health Psychology, before coming to his current position at Centre College.

Dr. Godlaski’s research focuses on component processes and outcomes of contemplative practice and the role of these processes in the promotion of well-being. While his research studies focus on a variety of health outcomes, he is most interested in effects on the cardiac system (heart rate variability and cardiac impedance) as indicators of central nervous system change. His current research projects include assessment of a controlled intervention designed to promote gratitude and the subsequent behavioral and physiological effects of that intervention, as well as a study on the differential physiological signatures of discrete positive emotions.

As the director of the Centre Contemplative Studies Initiative, Dr. Godlaski, along with a group of four other Centre faculty are working to bring contemplative pedagogical practices to both curricular and extracurricular activities. The initiative has spawned several contemplative practice and reading groups, a student club, and a recent southern regional workshop on contemplative teaching.



  1. Roger Coward on July 24, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Where’s the research into the depths of meditation that was headlined?

    • Carrie Bergman on July 24, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Roger,
      If you download the slides using the link in the post, Dr. Godlaski has included references to his own research and to others’ work. Is that what you’re looking for?

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