Geshe Lobsang Negi, Charles Raison, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle
In early 2009, Emory researchers piloted a compassion meditation program for youth in Atlanta's group foster care system. The program trained six girls in engaged compassion as a means for developing inner resilience and building stronger, healthier relationships. The girls later shared with external reviewers how powerfully the meditation had helped them in their relationships. One girl said the training transformed her relationship with her estranged adoptive mother. The Georgia Department of Human Resources and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have joined Emory in conducting a feasibility study so that the program can be expanded in the state of Georgia.
Geshe Lobsang Negi, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle
The Tibetan Buddhist tradition, like various other contemplative traditions, offers a systematic, time-tested method for cultivating emotional balance, attentional stability and prosocial behavior. Such practices, when appropriately selected and integrated, could complement current educational models aimed at increasing social and emotional intelligence. Collaboration between contemplative practitioners and educators could offer powerful insight into how best to educate the heart and mind in developmentally appropriate ways. Using the lojong-based compassion meditation protocol designed by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, our team is developing a program suitable for educational settings in collaboration with teachers at the Paideia School.
Held annually in Dharamsala, the heart of the Tibetan exile community in India, this program is a full immersion experience for students interested in engaging with researchers at the forefront of a growing dialogue between the Tibetan Buddhist contemplative and medical traditions and neuroscience, biology and physics.
Students enroll in two courses taught by Emory faculty: “Mind, Medicine and Healing”, which examines the mind/body connection through the cross-cultural lenses of both modern science and Tibetan Buddhist contemplative science and Traditional Tibetan Medicine, and “Culture of Buddhist Tibet”, which offers an introduction to the ways in which health, illness and death are experienced and conceptualized in Tibetan society in exile. These courses are supplemented by field trips to Tibetan medical and cultural centers, visits to leading spiritual teachers of the Tibetan Buddhist contemplative tradition, and an excursion into the Himalayan foothills to study Tibetan medicinal herbs and plants.
The program also coincides with a session of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI), an historic undertaking to develop and implement a comprehensive science education curriculum for Tibetan monastics. Students on the abroad program have the opportunity to engage in formal dialogue and lively, informal “debate” with the Tibetan monks and nuns who are studying neuroscience, biology and physics with Emory faculty.