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Compassion Training, Transformation, and the Brain
Dates: Sep 22, 2017 - Sep 24, 2017
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)

Instructor(s): John Makransky, Wendy Hasenkamp

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In this program, we will learn meditation methods for cultivating strong, stable care and compassion. These methods have been adapted from Buddhism for people in secular caring roles and professions—the Sustainable Compassion Training model (SCT).  Such training is designed to help us realize a power of unconditional care from within that can be deeply healing and sustaining, allowing us to be more fully present, and empowering strong, active compassion for others that is not subject to “compassion fatigue” or burnout. SCT highlights our need to experience ourselves as objects of care and compassion in order to extend the same attitudes widely to others; our need to be seen in our unconditional worth and potential in order to see the same in others; and our need to become present to our own feelings with kindness in order to become present to others with kindness. We will also discuss possible connections between such cultivations and current research in areas of social psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, including the neural basis of reductive concepts, and mechanisms for transformation of habitual mental patterns. Periods of practice will be integrated with lecture and discussion.

  • John Makransky PhD, is Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, senior advisor for Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s Centre of Buddhist Studies in Nepal, former president of the Society of Buddhist-Christian studies, and co-founder of the Foundation for Active Compassion. In 2000, John was ordained as a Lama within the Nyingma Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. As a meditation teacher, John is known for guiding participants in their discovery of underlying powers of love and wisdom. John developed the Innate Compassion Training model (ICT), which is being applied to help empower inclusive, sustainable compassion for people in caring roles and professions.

  • Wendy Hasenkamp, PhD, serves as senior scientific officer at the Mind & Life Institute. As a neuroscientist and a contemplative practitioner, she is interested in understanding how subjective experience is represented in the brain, and how the mind and brain can be transformed through experience and practice to enhance flourishing. Her research examines the neural correlates of meditation, with a focus on the shifts between mind wandering and attention. She has also contributed to neuroscience curriculum development, teaching, and textbook creation for the Emory University Tibet Science Initiative, which aims to integrate science into the Tibetan monastic education system in India.