Neuroscience has now proven what Buddhism has been preaching all along, reports Kathy Gilsinon in this post from Epoch Times. Here’s how to cultivate compassion and kindness in your brain:
In 1992, the neuroscientist Richard Davidson got a challenge from the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’“
The best way to activate positive-emotion circuits in the brain is through generosity,” Davidson, who founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin, Madison, said in a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “This is really a kind of exciting neuroscientific finding because there are pearls of wisdom in the contemplative tradition—the Dalai Lama frequently talks about this—that the best way for us to be happy is to be generous to others.
Brain scans shows that “compassion is a kind of state that involves the body in a major way.” One example: Davidson and coauthors found in a study that meditation improved immune response to an influenza vaccine.
But it’s still not known precisely how compassion alters the brain to promote better health or better behavior. Davidson’s research suggests, he said, that “we can all take responsibility for our brains.” In which case, cultivating responsibility itself might be the first step.