Neurobiology of Meditation

with Deana Bodnar PhD LMSW

August 13 & 20, 2022

This course will provide students with a practical understanding of the neural circuits affected by meditation practices as well as the changes that can occur in these circuits with consistent practice. We will first review the basic of neurobiology such as neuron function and coding, communication between neurons and the processes that underlie changes in neural connections. Then we will examine the neural circuits involved in different types of meditation such as mindfulness, loving kindness and compassion meditations. No previous knowledge of neurobiology, meditation or Buddhism is required.

Deana Bodnar has PhD in Neurobiology from UC Berkeley and was a research associate in the Section of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University for 11 years. She has been a student and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism at Namgyal Monastery for over 20 years.

Day One

Basics of Neuroplasticity
Brain Structure and Function
Processing Sensory and Emotion Information


Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Practice in the West
Health and Mental Health Benefits
Effects of Mindfulness on the Brain

Day Two

Review from Day One
Interpersonal Neurobiology
Neurobiology of Social Cognition
Neurobiology of Empathy


Loving-Kindness Meditation
Effect of LKM on the Brain
Compassion Meditation
Effects of Compassion Meditation on the Brain
Compassion Training and Altruism

Fees: $120/$100/$80*

*Dawn Mountain has a tiered system of pricing, recognizing the wide variation in individuals’ fiscal capabilities.  Those with greater ability are encouraged to participate at the higher levels, helping to support programming for those at the lower levels.  As always, no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.  If you are unable to contribute at the lower levels, please contact Jerri at [email protected] to discuss your personal situation. 

Dr. Bodnar’s class enables students to understand the underlying neural processes involved in meditation. Often, students are told that they can change, even rewire, their brains through meditative practices of many kinds. Unlike most others, however, Dr. Bodnar makes such claims understandable in both scientific and experiential ways. Having graduated from U.C Berkeley with a PhD. in Neurobiology, she offers students an explicit explanation of how they may alter specific neural pathways to literally change their minds. She brings research from some of the foremost scholars in the field to link one’s habitual emotions and thought patterns to specific areas of the brain. By explaining how meditative practices can influence those habitual patterns, she provides students with the means to test the effects of meditation practices for themselves.”