by Anita Anandan
Editor’s Note: If you’re inspired by Anita’s story, please check out Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) / Teacher Training and become a certified CBRT Teacher. Find out more and register — the training begins May 25th!
In December 2021, I had a chance to teach Nalanda Institute’s Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT), in a local prison. CBRT is an 8-week curriculum covering mindfulness, insight, compassion, mentor imagery along with breath and posture practices, complimented by Western scientific validation of these ancient practices.
Out of safety concerns during the pandemic, the prison arranged for me to communicate with the men remotely. The men gathered in a common space, and a video conference was used for the almost 80 men and I to communicate with each other. From time to time announcements reverberated through the space. Some of the men spoke Spanish, which I did not, and did not speak English, the language I used. But unwilling to let that deter them from fully participating, they brought a friend who interpreted between us.
Editor’s Note: Nalanda Institute’s Director, Dr. Joe Loizzo recently sat down with Dr. Emma Seppälä for a conversation about compassion science and their hopes for the future. Dr. Seppälä is the Science Director at The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University. We present a small portion of their conversation here.
Dr. Seppälä is also our Guest of Honor at our 10th Annual Benefit on June 12th. Her talk entitled “Compassion Science: Healing Our Interconnected World” further explores the topics presented here. Find out more about our forthcoming benefit.
Joe Loizzo: Welcome, Emma, and thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me about your work in the science of compassion. First of all, maybe you could fill us in about how you found your way to your unusual career.
Emma Seppälä: While I was doing my master’s degree at Columbia in East Asian languages in the late 90’s, I took a class with Bob Thurman, and decided to focus on Buddhist Studies. That lead me to the seminar you gave on Science, Spirituality and Healing in the Tibetan tradition, where I remember you urged me to go to a talk at Union Seminary by Richie Davidson and Dan Goleman on meditation research, remember?