feeling good = doing good (transforming your mind)


This morning, my mother sent me this section of an article, in response to my post about Mingyur Rinpoche. It’s from an interview with Richard Davidson, “a neuroscientist who has meditated for over 30 years and, after meeting the Dalai Lama in 1992, re-focused his research of human emotions to the study of compassion.” The last bit really says quite a lot;

“If you look at the index of any scientific textbook, you won’t find the word compassion,” Davidson says. “But it is as worthy a topic of examination as all the negative emotions—fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, disgust—that have long occupied the scientific community.”
When I visit Davidson in Madison, where he and Susan have lived since 1985 and raised their children, Amelie, now 26, and Seth, 20, he tells me about his latest research: Reminding me that the Dalai Lama’s mandate is to effect change in the world through the power of compassion, Davidson says, “If this is truly possible, then we should be able to discover circuits in the brain that underlie compassion and that are strengthened when it is cultivated.”
His new studies on the monks—”the Olympic athletes of meditation,” as he calls them—are designed to measure what happens when they engage specifically in compassion practice. So far, he’s found that their brains show dramatic changes in two telling areas: increased activity not only in the prefrontal cortex—which floods them with well-being—but also in the areas involved with motor planning. It seems the monks are not just “feeling” good; their brains have primed their bodies to spring up and “do” good. “They are poised to jump into action and do whatever they can to help relieve suffering,” Davidson says.”

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