September 27, 2010
The Tibetan spiritual leader recently announced plans to donate $50,000 to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at Madison, a new research lab founded by Dr. Davidson, which is studying whether meditation can promote compassion and kindness.
The center has just started a project to teach meditation skills to fifth graders in Madison — focusing on charitable thoughts toward loved ones, strangers, even enemies. After the children enter middle school, researchers assess how their behavior compares with a control group, using a range of measures that will include reports from teachers.
Dr. Davidson, who has been training adults in “mindfulness” for about a decade, incorporates the study of brain imagery in his work on meditation. He said that research showed that meditation could change brain-wave patterns.
The center’s mission was inspired by a meeting between Dr. Davidson and the Dalai Lama in 1992 in the Himalayas. The Tibetan challenged Dr. Davidson to “use sophisticated tools” to “investigate things like kindness and compassion.”
Dr. Davidson promised the Dalai Lama that he would do everything he could “to put compassion on the scientific map.”