The center aims to develop scientific assessment tools in order to evaluate the impacts of mindfulness interventions on health.
Harvard University announced the launch of the Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness, a new addition to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. According to a press release, the center’s mission is to “empower people around the globe to live with purpose, equanimity, and joy through the practice of mindfulness; pursue evidence-based approaches to improve health and well-being through mindfulness; and educate and train the public in mindfulness.”
The center was named to honor the late Vietnamese Buddhist teacher and founder of the Engaged Buddhism movement, Thich Nhat Hanh, for his dedication to peace and activism throughout his life and his influence on the teachings of mindfulness. The center was founded with a 25-million dollar gift from an anonymous donor, representing one of the largest single donations in the school’s history.
Walter Willett, the center’s director and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition reported that this center will bring mindfulness to the context of public health research. “We are looking forward to establishing the Center as a hub of rigorous inquiry and to collaborating with colleagues around the world to advance the science of mindfulness,” Willett stated in a press release on Monday.
The center’s research will focus on developing scientific assessment tools in order to evaluate the impacts of mindfulness interventions on health. The center plans to focus their research efforts on mindfulness and living as it relates to the environment and nutrition.
Lilian Cheung, the director of mindfulness research and practice at the Harvard Department of Nutrition, and co-author of the book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life with Thich Nhat Hanh, says she hopes the Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness at Harvard will encourage people to take up mindfulness practices in their daily lives. “Over the years, I became deeply interested in learning how the practice of mindfulness could be applied to the discipline of public health, which seeks to prevent disease and promote well-being at population scale. That is exactly what this Center will do,” Cheung says.