Building Blocks of Compassion

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Building Blocks of Compassion
6th Annual Administrative Professionals Conference
Emory University
April 24, 2014
Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D.
Director, Emory-Tibet Mind-Science Initiative
Spiritual Director, Drepung Loseling Monastery, Atlanta
Outline
1. What is compassion?
2. Benefits of compassion
3. Can we cultivate compassion?
4. Cognitively-Based Compassion Training:
a specific approach for developing compassion
5. Key Components of CBCT
What is Compassion?
The essence of compassion is a desire to alleviate
the suffering of others and to promote their well-being.
This is the spiritual principle from which all other positive inner
values emerge.
–His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion
At a basic level, compassion (nying je) is understood mainly in
terms of empathy–our ability to enter into and, to some extent,
share others’ suffering.
–His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium
Benefits of Compassion
So the human capacity to care for others is not something trivial or
something to be taken for granted. Rather, it is something we
should cherish. Compassion is a marvel of human nature, a
precious inner resource, and the foundation of our well-being and
the harmony of our societies. If, therefore, we seek happiness for
ourselves, we should practice compassion; and if we seek
happiness for others, we should also practice compassion!
–H.H. the Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion
Benefits: Effects of CBCT on
biochemical stress responses
0.5
0
-0.5
-1.0
-1.5
0
15
30 45
60 75
90
0.5
0
-0.5
-1.0
-1.5
0
Time (min)
15
TSST
plasma cortisol, µg/ml
plasma cortisol, µg/ml
TSST
Cortisol
TSST after
meditation training
log plasma IL-6, pg/ml
IL-6
log plasma IL-6, pg/ml
TSST prior to
meditation training
18
16
14
12
10
8
30 45
60 75
90
Time (min)
18
16
14
12
10
8
0
0
0
15
TSST
30 45
60 75
Time (min)
Pace et al. Psychoneuroendocrinol 2009;34:87-98;
Pace et al. Psychoneuroendocrinol 2010; 35: 310-15
90
0
15
TSST
30 45
60 75
90
Time (min)
low practice
high practice
Benefits of Compassion Training: Empathic
Accuracy
IFG Brain Activation and Reading the Mind in the Eyes
* p < 0.05
p < 0.05
CBCT Group
Control Group
Mascaro et al. SCAN 2013; 8(1):48-55.
*
CBCT for At-risk Adolescents in
Foster Care
“We have no shortage of programs for
kids in care, but they are all focused on
changing external circumstances. We
need a program that brings about inner
change, and I feel that Emory’s
compassion program is exactly what our
children need.”
B.J. Walker
Commissioner, GA Division of Human Services, 2009
• Helped youth transform relationships with caregivers, teachers
and peers
• Encouraged concrete changes in their behavior
Lower inflammation and greater hope in
foster care adolescents who practiced CBCT more
more
hope
60000
55000
50000
45000
40000
35000
30000
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
-1
change in Children’s Hope Scale
Score
from before to after training
saliva C-reactive protein
controlling for baseline
higher
inflammation
low
CBCT
practice*
lower
inflammation
high
CBCT
practice*
*below or above median
practice sessions
Pace, Negi, Dodson-Lavelle, Ozawa-de Silva, Reddy, Cole, Danese,
Craighead & Raison (in press). Psychoneuroendocrinology, July 2, 2012
less
hope
low
CBCT
practice*
high
CBCT
practice*
Reddy, Negi, Dodson-Lavelle, Ozawa-de Silva, Pace, Cole, Raison,
Craighead (in press) Journal Child Family Studies, February 21, 2012
Social Circles Task
Antonucci et al., 1998
% of children who add friends
% children with
peer friendships
CBCT(N=26)
MINDFULNESS
(N=27)
• Only children who learn CBCT add significantly more
friends to their social network (p=.005)
• Only children who learn CBCT add significantly more peer (same-class) friendships (p=.019)
(Dodson-Lavelle, Robbins, Ozawa-de Silva, Pace, Negi, Raison, Rochat, in preparation.)
Can we cultivate compassion?
“Generally I distinguish two levels of compassion. The first is the
biological level I have been describing, exemplified by the
affection of a mother for her newborn child. The second is an
extended level, which has to be deliberately cultivated.
While compassion at the biological level can be unconditional, like
the mother’s love for her baby, it is also biased and limited in
scope. Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance, because it is
the seed from which unbiased compassion can grow. We can
take our innate capacity for warm-heartedness and, using our
intelligence and conviction, expand it.”
–His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion
Can we cultivate compassion?
“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into
larger communities, the simplest reason will tell each individual
that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all
the member of the same nation, though personally unknown to
him. This point being, once reached, there is only an artificial
barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all
nations and races… Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that
is, humanity to lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral
acquisitions. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is
endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies
becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are
extended to all sentient beings.”
–Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Cognitively-Based Compassion Training:
A specific approach for developing compassion
• Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) is drawn
from the lojong (training the mind) and lam rim (stages of the
path) traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, but rendered into
secular form. It was developed as a protocol for research on
compassion training at Emory University.
• CBCT recognizes a biologically-given potential for
compassion in all of us, but employs deliberate training to
expand this capacity beyond the limits of in-group/out-group
bias.
Key components of CBCT
1. Developing Attentional Stability
2. Self-Compassion
3. Developing Impartiality
4. Developing Affectionate Love and Empathy
5. Strengthening Compassion
“ A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a
part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our
thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest. A
kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a
kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and
to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be
to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of
compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of
nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is
determined by the measure and the sense in which they have
obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a
substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to
survive”.
–Albert Einstein
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