The Academi of Life regularly invites inspirational thought-leaders to share their wisdoms in enlightening Evenings in Conversation. These conversations touch on a range of life lessons, from neuroscience and spirituality, money and morality, commitment, happiness, and much more. Here, everyone has something to teach as well as learn- it’s all a part of conversation.

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Addiction is an epidemic that's affecting all layers of American society. More than 100 people die from overdoses every day -- it's the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. -- more than traffic fatalities. Every family in America is impacted by this but do we truly understand the nature of this epidemic and the profile of drug users? We hold many stereotypes about what drug addiction is like, and what the users are like. Addiction can exist in people's lives that are very accomplished and very educated. The stereotypes usually don't match reality. Dr. Carl Hart, an Associate Professor in the departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University has written a book, High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, based on 22 years of research as a groundbreaking neuropsychopharmacologist about the science of drug addiction. He asks us to get our facts right about drugs and drug use and believes that dispelling some of the myths and stereotypes, may help us effectively fight our drug problems through re-education and effective drug policies. Did you know that: More than 20 million Americans use illegal drugs regularly 85% of drug users are not addicted Around half of all people with drug addictions are employed full time A huge proportion of people having difficulties with prescription drugs are women "Much of what we are doing in terms of drug education, treatment, and public policy is inconsistent with scientific data." – Dr. Carl Hart
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"Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story." Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist. Her brother’s brain disorder and schizophrenia led Dr. Taylor to dedicate her career to studying severe mental illnesses. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. Dr. Taylor gave a presentation at the TED Conference, which has been watched by over ten million and has become the most viewed TED Talk to date. She was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. Dr. Taylor was the premiere guest on Oprah's Soul Series webcast and was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She's now an artist as well as a scientist, creating anatomically correct stained-glass replicas of brains that are sold as fine art and also travels the country on behalf of the Harvard Brain Bank as the "Singin' Scientist.” Dr. Taylor is an adjunct lecturer at the Indiana University School of Medicine. why attend: Learn how to get your brain to do what you want it to do. Learn who is who inside of you. Learn to access the right brain and improve the quality of your life. Learn new tools for your own personal empowerment. Experience a powerful story of the resilience of the human spirit. "How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I've gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career." - Jill Bolte Taylor
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Is there life after death? As ancient as time itself, the idea of an afterlife remains at the core of most religions and belief systems, as humans have sought to find meaning and purpose in their existence on this earth-if any at all. Yet, as the world advances and people become increasingly dependent on science and technology, this question has been further argued and debated, as the rationality of scientific theory seems to disprove the very existence of the supernatural realm. So the age old question remains: Is there life beyond our physical existence? And if so, is it possible to reconcile this "ancient" belief in an afterlife and the supernatural, with belief in the powers of science and medicine? According to Dr. Eben Alexander, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes. Dr. Eben Alexander, a renowned neurosurgeon and former near-death experience skeptic, has examined these questions and more in his New York Times bestselling autobiography Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. In the book, Dr. Alexander captivates the reader with a real life account of his miraculous recovery from an inexplicable brain infection, and his even more astounding odyssey deep into the spiritual realm during the week that he spent comatose. This experience seems to defy medical explanation, but Dr. Alexander, who has spent the last two and half years reconciling his rich spiritual experience with his knowledge of modern science, will explore how his journey is remarkably consistent with contemporary scientific understanding. His story offers a crucial key to the understanding of reality and human consciousness and it will have a major effect on how we view spirituality, soul and the non-material realm. He will explain why the symbiotic relationship between science and spirituality is necessary for true health. Through this discussion, we will learn how to probe deeply into our consciousness, so that we can have the power to transcend the limitations of this physical-material realm. "This powerful story would be remarkable regardless of who went through the experience. That it happened to Dr. Alexander, a leading neurosurgeon, makes it revolutionary."
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Elizabeth Gilbert faced down a premidlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of – running off for a year to find herself. She got more than she bargained for: she found herself, found love and got committed. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the megabestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home. Eat, Pray, Love has spent over 200 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, is published in more than thirty languages and has sold over seven million copies. Her latest book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, a somewhat sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, is also a New York Times Best Seller and is a meditation and contemplation of the institution of marriage from a multitude of historical and modern perspectives. It also chronicles how she made peace with marrying again. Gilbert also owns and runs the import shop Two Buttons in Frenchtown, New Jersey. WHY ATTEND: Learn why creative minds and suffering don't have to be linked. Learn how to still live a fulfilled life even if your great success is behind you. Learn a different way to think about creative genius. Learn about the meaning of marriage & relationships in the 21st century. Learn what it means to be a man; how they want to be seen. "Elizabeth Gilbert is everything you would love in a tour guide, of magical places she has traveled to both deep inside and across the oceans: she's wise, jaunty, human, ethereal, hilarious, heartbreaking, and God, does she pay great attention to the things that really matter." - Anne Lamott
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