December 2, 2022
In this episode, Wendy speaks with clinical psychologist and contemplative Amy Cohen Varela. In addition to her work as a psychoanalytic therapist, Amy is also the widow of Francisco Varela (co-founder of the Mind & Life Institute), and continues to share his vision and work through the offerings of Mind & Life Europe. This conversation covers many topics, including:
- her dual interest in biology and literature;
- the contemplative aspects of psychoanalysis;
- skills learned from listening deeply to yourself and to others;
- how she met Francisco Varela;
- enaction, meaning, and participatory sense-making;
- links between Francisco’s ideas and Buddhist philosophy;
- subjective and objective viewpoints, and how we oversimplify Buddhism and science in that dynamic;
- how more than a decade with Francisco has changed her;
- the power of curiosity and openness;
- doing and undoing the self in psychoanalysis;
- Francisco’s reflections on the Chilean civil war, and implications for polarization;
- the need for systems to be able to “undo” themselves;
- and Mind & Life Europe’s latest offerings.
Amy Cohen Varela is Chairperson of the Mind & Life Europe Board and has been involved with Mind & Life since its inception. She is also a clinical psychologist specialized in psychodynamic therapy and philosophy. Amy studied comparative literature at Brown and Columbia Universities before moving to Paris in the early ’80s, where she received her degree in clinical psychology at the University of Paris 7, with a specialty in psychodynamic theory and practice, and in parallel, completed psychoanalytic training.
- Free Online Course: Core Enaction
- Video interview: Science and Human Experience: Remembering Francisco Varela
- Webinar: Mind & Life – Whence a Beautiful Idea?
- Referenced book: The Embodied Mind (Second Edition), 2017
- Francisco Varela Paper: Reflections on the Chilean Civil War. Lindisfarne Letters, 1979. *Listen to Varela deliver this lecture, and Q&A following*
- Evan Thompson Lecture: Not One, Not Two. Life and Work of Francisco Varela: Ouroboros Seminars, Mind & Life Europe, 2021
- Francisco Varela Interview: On Observing Natural Systems, 1976