Episode 205 :: Katherine MacLean :: Unplugged

| August 3, 2014 | 5 Comments


Katherine MacLean

Researcher and practitioner Katherine MacLean joins us in our first Unplugged episode.

One thing that often gets missed in the ongoing criticisms of scientific research being doing around meditation, is that the researchers are people. They are dedicated professionals, and passionate practitioners who nonetheless manage to maintain a boundary between their personal care for this transformative practice, and their integrity as scientists.

But that doesn’t mean our fellow meditators aren’t personally impacted, touched, and changed by what we have in common, our shared human experience. Their lives are perhaps a bit more deeply embedded in living the dhamma than we know, and how it changes them, makes them question, laugh, love, and live through the inevitable losses of those close to them, is truly inspiring.

This new series, Unplugged, sets aside the exploration of teaching, practice, and research, and instead allows an open and brave sharing of that humanity. It is my great honor that our friend Katherine MacLean was willing to be the first in this experiment, and by happy circumstance I got the rare treat of spending a day in person with her just last week. KMac and Holly, this episode is dedicated to you both, to your compassion, your drive, and your hearts — thank you.

Katherine MacLean grew up in Connecticut and received her bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College in the woods of New Hampshire. After a two-year stint recording brain activity in rhesus monkeys, she transitioned to studying primates who could talk about their subjective experiences: humans. During her graduate studies at the University of California, Davis, she worked with Ron Mangun on studies of visual attention and with Clifford Saron on the Shamatha Project – a longitudinal study of changes in behavior and brain function during intensive meditation training. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology in the fall of 2009 and subsequently joined the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit within the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow.

So, sit back, relax, and have a nice Yak butter tea.


Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of this podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. You can visit his website to hear more of his music, get the full discography, and view his upcoming tour dates.

Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

Comments (5)

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  1. Ron Stillman Ron Stillman says:

    Thank you for sharing this moving story of heroism and your journey afterwards.

  2. Mark Knickelbine says:

    I’ll look forward to more “Unplugged” episodes (although, what are they unplugged from, exactly?)

    One of the strengths of the MBI approach is that there is a trained counselor or therapist available who can recognize when something besides mindfulness practice might be necessary to help navigate difficulties. I know I have appreciated being able to turn to my MBSR teachers to talk about challenges.

  3. Jennifer Hawkins Jennifer Hawkins says:

    I can’t help but wonder what exactly her “psychedelic” work is… It kind of sounds like she’s a special therapist for people that have negative experiences while doing drugs or that she gives them the drugs for some kind of research purposes…?

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