No two brains at UVA go about their business the same way. With the inception of the school's new Contemplative Sciences Center, faculty and students will be able to better navigate how people think by studying the benefits associated with everything from yoga to meditation.

Launched with a $12 million gift from Paul Jones (Col '76) and his wife, Sonia, both Ashtanga yoga practitioners, the Contemplative Sciences Center will function as the "brain" in UVA's brainstorms among students and departments. Faculty members from specialties as disparate as alternative medical treatments and the Darden School of Business will be brought together by the center, which will be led in part by Tibetan Buddhist studies professor David Germano.

Paul and Sonia Jones Cole Geddy
"The center will try to increase mainstream awareness about the potential benefits of training your mind and body," says Germano. "Hopefully, like drops in the ocean, this training can lead people to greater reflexivity, greater understanding, greater caring, greater efficiency and greater insight."

Germano says that the integration of contemplation and yoga into a major research university is innovative—and perhaps unprecedented. The center's focus will include basic and applied research, curricular programs and practical applications to real-life situations. For example, the center will provide opportunities to test and refine research like that being done by nursing professor Ann Gill Taylor, director of UVA's Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies. Taylor is working on methods of using yoga to treat major depression in women and is using the ancient Chinese healing art of internal qigong to reduce seizure frequency among patients with epilepsy.

"Our educational system needs to consider new ideas and practices for the mind and body that can complement its traditional valuation of critical thought and debate," says Sonia Jones.