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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Matthieu Ricard


About Matthieu Ricard

"Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who went from a scientific career as a molecular biologist in France (working under French Nobel Laureate François Jacob) to the study of Buddhism in the Himalayas 40 years ago. He has been the French interpreter for the Dalai Lama since 1989."

 

TED Matthieu Ricard: How to let altruism be your guide
"What is altruism? Put simply, it's the wish that other people may be happy. And, says Matthieu Ricard, a happiness researcher and a Buddhist monk, altruism is also a great lens for making decisions, both for the short and long term, in work and in life."

#Empathy explained by Matthieu Ricard

 

 

Matthieu Ricard on Altruism and Empathy
Matthieu Ricard on emotional and cognitive empathy   
 

Transcript:
"If altruism and compassion are really two expressions of the same sort of same fundamental benevolence.  Empathy is slightly different.  Empathy is something that helps you to know that someone else needs this or that to be happy or that someone else is suffering. Because if you don't even notice, then why should you be concerned, you'll be indifferent, you'll ignore it. 

So there are several aspects of empathy.
 
One is the affective resonance.
You come with a big smile full of joy, I sort of have this affective resonance. Which I know is you, it's not pure contagion. I know because you are joyful I become joyful. But if you suffer, and if I have this empathic resonance, effective resonance, then I suffer because you suffer. So it's not like a distress contagion, but it's like I suffer because I'm not happy to see you suffer.  That is the affective empathy.

Then there is the cognitive empathy.
Which is to think, 'Oh, event thought I don't feel this strong emotional response,  but what is that person feeling now? Why is that person seems so distressed and anxious, even I'm not distressed. 

She has an airplane and a flight fear. I don't have it, but I see she is so much disturbed. So I feel concern because I know that she is in that state..  So I can either try to imagine what she feels. Or it's something that I might feel myself I will try to imagine what I would feel if I was in the place of that person. That is slightly different.  

So, both affective and cognitive empathy allows you to know the situation of the person in terms of experience.  So that for instance, is what will trigger the transformation of altruistic love and compassion. It will be catalyzed by empathy  because you know that personal is suffering through either affective resonance or by imagining what the person feels. So it is a very important catalyst to relate to others and if you are concerned by others, it helps you do the right thing".
 
 

Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training
Olga M. Klimecki, Susanne Leiberg, Matthieu Ricard, and Tania Singer
Although empathy is crucial for successful social interactions, excessive sharing of others negative emotions may be maladaptive and constitute a ,source of burnout. To investigate functional neural plasticity underlying the augmentation of empathy and to test the counteracting potential of compassion, one group of participants was first trained in empathic resonance and subsequently in compassion. In response to videos depicting human suffering, empathy training, but not memory training (control group), increased negative affect and brain activations in anterior insula and anterior midcingulate cortexbrain regions previously associated with empathy for pain.
 

In contrast, subsequent compassion training could reverse the increase in negative effect and, in  contrast, augment self-reports of positive affect. In addition, compassion training increased  activations in a nonoverlapping brain network spanning ventral striatum, pregenual anterior cingulate  cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex. We conclude that training compassion may reflect a new  coping strategy toovercome empathic distress and strengthen resilience.

 

Is Compassion Meditation the Key to Better Caregiving? (VIDEO)
Empathy is the faculty to resonate with the feelings of others. When we meet someone who is joyful, we smile. When we witness someone in pain, we suffer in resonance with his or her suffering. Neuroscience has proven that similar areas of the brain are activated both in the person who suffers and in the one who feels empathy. Thus empathic suffering is a true experience of suffering.

When some empathic caregivers are exposed to others' suffering day after day, their continuous partaking in this suffering might become overwhelming and can lead to burnout. Other caregivers may react by shutting down their empathic feeling and drawing an emotional curtain between themselves and their patients. Both these reactions are far from optimal.

Could mind training and meditation on altruistic love and compassion serve as an antidote to burnout? An example of this is the caregiver who naturally displays overflowing kindness and warmth toward his patients and does not experience any burnout.

Experienced Buddhist meditators have reported that when they focused for some time on what they called "stand-alone empathy" (visualizing intense suffering affecting someone else and resonating empathically with that suffering) without allowing compassion and altruistic love to grow in their minds, they soon experienced burnout.

 

 

#Empathy explained by Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard shares his thoughts on empathy. Shining Hope supports his humanitarian projects in northern India.
 


Matthieu Ricard on Compassion

 

 

HuffingtonPost Is Compassion Meditation the Key to Better Caregiving?  Matthieu Ricard
"Empathy is the faculty to resonate with the feelings of others. When we meet someone who is joyful, we smile. When we witness someone in pain, we suffer in resonance with his or her suffering. Neuroscience has proven that similar areas of the brain are activated both in the person who suffers and in the one who feels empathy. Thus empathic suffering is a true experience of suffering.

When some empathic caregivers are exposed to others' suffering day after day, their continuous partaking in this suffering might become overwhelming and can lead to burnout. Other caregivers may react by shutting down their empathic feeling and drawing an emotional curtain between themselves and their patients. Both these reactions are far from optimal."



Video - Matthieu Ricard Speaks on Compassion  fora.tv
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