Message from the Director

Balachundhar Subramaniam, MD, MPH, FASA
Balachundhar Subramaniam, MD

Welcome to the Sadhguru Center for a Conscious Planet. This unique Center, established in 2020 by the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at BIDMC uses a scientific approach to integrate medical and contemplative sciences to improve patient care. This work will help us identify methods to improve brain health and enhance the physical and mental health of our patients, especially during the perioperative period. Many people who face surgery or serious medical illnesses are concerned about supporting their own recovery and healing, with particular concern about preventing the neurocognitive disorders that can accompany serious health events. This Center will create clinical and contemplative practices aimed at promoting recovery and improving brain health during this time period and beyond.

Harnessing the power of the mind to improve health and healing is an exciting emerging area that has produced seminal and encouraging results. Researchers at Harvard, Yale and MIT were the first to demonstrate that meditation can increase thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. Another intriguing finding relates to how daily meditation practices can cause permanent changes in the observed amplitude of brain electrical oscillations. Our recent collaborative work with other institutions showed that patients who practice mindfulness showed an increase in endocannabinoids and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, along with improved well-being. These are exciting, emerging scientific findings that need to be built upon. One primary goal of the Center is to determine the efficacy of mindfulness methods as well as the mechanisms underlying the enhanced mood and focus that accompany these practices.

Mindfulness is being used in many areas: education, post-traumatic stress and addiction recovery, anxiety reduction, and others. People who perform daily mindfulness practices can attest to the benefits of increased awareness in their professional and personal lives. They experience sharper focus, enhanced cognition, more fulfilling relationships, less negativity, and increased enjoyment of everyday life. Here at the Center, we want to use our scientific training to investigate these changes and use our findings to develop education programs to share with the broader community.

We are very enthusiastic about the impact this Center will have, and look forward to sharing this exciting and important work.

Bala Subramaniam, MD, MPH
Director, Sadhguru Center for a Conscious Planet: Enhancing Consciousness, Cognition, and Compassion
Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School
Ellison "Jeep" Pierce Chair of Anesthesia, BIDMC

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