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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Geshe Lobsang Negi (Satya Dev Negi)

Geshe Lobsang Negi and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Geshe Lobsang Negi serves as Co-Director of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative and Co-Director of the Emory Collaborative of Contemplative Studies. " In addition, he has contributed to the development of a number of programs linking Emory University with Tibetan institutions of higher learning in India. 

 

His career has focused on the potential of mind to affect well-being on physical, emotional an mental levels and is now centered in three areas: Clinical research on the behavioral, immune and stress impacts of contemplative practices; Developing and implementing a science curriculum for Tibetan monastics; and Teaching Tibetan Buddhism both at Emory University and Atlanta's Drepung Loseling." He is also the developer of the Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) which draws on the the lojong tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to foster compassion. This training was studied to determine it's effectiveness in fostering empathy by Jennifer Mascaro at Emory University.
Sub Conference: Science

 
 
 


 Lobsang Negi and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy-Compassion with Training

 

 

 

Transcripts

  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

 

 

Cognitive-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) -  Tibet.Emory.Edu

"There are doubtless many methods one could employ to enhance compassion beyond the biological level to an impartial altruism, and in fact many religious traditions contain methods for such cultivation. In our studies, we use a protocol for the cultivation of compassion developed by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, drawn from the lojong tradition of Tibetan Buddhism but rendered into secular form for use by individuals of any, or no, religious inclination. The term lojong means "mind training" or "thought transformation" and refers to a systematic practice of gradually training the mind in compassion until altruism becomes spontaneous."

 

2012-09-29 - Study: Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity.
The ability to accurately infer others' mental states from facial expressions is important for optimal social functioning and is fundamentally impaired in social cognitive disorders such as autism. While pharmacologic interventions have shown promise for enhancing empathic accuracy, little is known about the effects of behavioral interventions on empathic accuracy and related brain activity. This study employed a randomized, controlled and longitudinal design to investigate the effect of a secularized analytical compassion meditation program, cognitive-based compassion training (CBCT), on empathic accuracy.

 

Twenty-one healthy participants received functional MRI scans while completing an empathic accuracy task, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), both prior to and after completion of either CBCT or a health discussion control group. Upon completion of the study interventions, participants randomized to CBCT and were significantly more likely than control subjects to have increased scores on the RMET and increased neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). 



Dissertation: A Longitudinal Investigation of Empathic Behavior and Neural Activity and Their Modulation by Compassion Meditation

While meditation is increasingly incorporated into clinical treatments for a variety of ailments and is offered to the public with claims of increasing overall health and well-being, there are sizeable gaps in our understanding of the outcomes related to its practice.

  • First, very little is known about how meditation affects social cognition and related neural processes.

  • Second, much of the current research on meditation is fraught with flawed experimental designs and incomplete assessments of practitioners, such that many have called into question any conclusions regarding the effects of meditation practices.

  • Third, research on meditation has primarily been conducted under the assumption that all practitioners meditate for a common reason and with common goals, and that meditation acts the same way in all practitioners.

This dissertation was designed to address the
aforementioned gaps. More specifically, we aimed to assess 

  • (1) the social cognitive, neurobiological and behavioral changes related to compassion meditation,

  •  (2) the mechanisms by which neurobiological change is translated into outcomes in
    practitioners, and

  • (3) the nuanced ways in which particular individuals adopt the meditation practice and attain effects.

 

 

 August 8, 2010 - Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity
Jennifer S. Mascaro, James K. Rilling, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Charles L. Raison

"The ability to accurately infer others’ mental states from facial expressions is important for optimal social functioning and is fundamentally impaired in social cognitive disorders such as autism. While pharmacologic interventions have shown promise for enhancing empathic accuracy, little is known about the effects of behavioral interventions on empathic accuracy and related brain activity. This study employed a randomized, controlled and longitudinal design to investigate the effect of a secularized analytical compassion meditation program, cognitive-based compassion training (CBCT), on empathic accuracy.

 

Twenty-one healthy participants received functional MRI scans while completing an empathic accuracy task, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), both prior to and after completion of either CBCT or a health discussion control group. Upon completion of the study interventions, participants randomized to CBCT and were significantly more likely than control subjects to have increased scores on the RMET and increased neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Moreover, changes in dmPFC and IFG activity from baseline to the post-intervention assessment were associated with changes in empathic accuracy. These findings suggest that CBCT may hold promise as a behavioral intervention for enhancing empathic accuracy and the neurobiology supporting it."

 


2012-10-04 - Compassion meditation may boost neural basis of empathy, Emory study finds
"A compassion-based meditation program can significantly improve a person's ability to read the facial expressions of others, finds a study published by Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. This boost in empathic accuracy was detected through both behavioral testing of the study participants and through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of their brain activity.

"It's an intriguing result, suggesting that a behavioral intervention could enhance a key aspect of empathy," says lead author Jennifer Mascaro, a post-doctoral fellow in anthropology at Emory University. "Previous research has shown that both children and adults who are better at reading the emotional expressions of others have better relationships." ..
 

When most people think of meditation, they think of a style known as "mindfulness," in which practitioners seek to improve their ability to concentrate and to be non-judgmentally aware of their thoughts and feelings. While CBCT includes these mindfulness elements, the practice focuses more specifically on training people to analyze and reinterpret their relationships with others. "

 

 

2012-10-07 - Meditation Could Improve Empathy, Study Suggests  - huffingtonpost.com
"Meditation could help people to be more empathetic, according to a small new study from Emory University. The research, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, showed that a meditation program called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training was able to improve people's ability to read emotional expressions on others' faces. Researchers said the meditation program is based on ancient Buddhist practices, but this particular program was secular. It included mindfulness techniques, but mainly involved training people to think about their relationships with other people."