How neuroscience and Buddhism informs our activism

Talk given by Rachel Lilley at the advaya event Regenerative Activism: Revitalising Self and Society.

A brain is not evolved for rationality, happiness or accurate perception. Neuroscience and contemporary theories of the brain agree with Buddhist teaching, that the brain is not designed to see reality. We understand this more than ever, so how does this effect how we work as activists to create change?

By understanding the latest theories of the brain, combined with practices of insight and reflection, we can make our work more effective and understand better the challenges of change making. This work draws from empirical research, developing, delivering and evaluating programmes in change making organisations. Rachel shows that learning about the brain from both a personal (mindfulness) and theoretical (neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics) perspective can transform the way people work. How an understanding of unconscious bias, the role of emotions and intuition in decision making, together with increased self-awareness, meta cognitive and perspective taking skills, could help create the next cognitive evolution that might help us achieve revolutionary change.


Rachel Lilley

Dr Rachel Lilley is a practitioner academic with expertise in environmental and social change. Her research has included a world leading project on improving decision making and collaboration in government, building psychological capability in Senior Leaders through research and a training intervention using behavioural economics and attention practices such as mindfulness. She has over 20 years’ experience developing systemic approaches to environmental, social, individual, and organisational change.

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