RESEARCH

How the brain changes with compassion

Understanding Neuroplasticity

Rick Hanson

Rick Hanson explains self directed neuroplasticity and makes the case that we can change our minds and our brains intentionally and for the better. He highlights the importance of shining our attention on things we're grateful for in order to build up those neural connections.

Compassion Cultivation

Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert explains that giving our attention to an emotion shines a light on that feeling, causing it to grow brighter. By being mindful and shining your light on compassion, Gilbert explains that we have the power to break negative mental loops and become the people we want to be.  

The Neuroscience of Compassion

Tania Singer

At the World Economic Forum, Tania Singer presents her research on the plasticity of fully developed, adult brains when it comes to learning compassion. Her research finds that with training and practice, all people can change their motivations and actions to come from a place of compassion.

Understanding emotions

Daniel Siegel's Hand Model of the Brain

In this video, Daniel Siegel explains how our brains are affected by emotions and how they can override our rational selves. He gives us a helpful model that can teach anyone from toddler to adult how to recognize and regulate their emotions.

Compassion's ability to change and regulate emotions 

Visual Attention to Suffering After Compassion Training Is Associated With Decreased Amygdala Responses

Helen Weng et al.

In this study, Helen Weng and her colleagues found that while adults who had participated in CCT showed a visual preference for suffering, they also had less severe emotional reactions to the visuals than participants who had not taken CCT. 

A wandering mind is a less caring mind: Daily experience sampling during compassion meditation training

Hooria Jazaieri et al. 

Letting attention drift to irrelevant things, particularly negative thoughts, has been linked to worse intra and inter personal feelings. In this study, a team of Stanford researchers found that adults who were enrolled in a CCT course decreased mind wandering to negative thoughts and increased self care related behavior. 

Altering the Trajectory of Affect and Affect Regulation:the Impact of Compassion Training

Hooria Jazaieri et al. 

While taking a 9-week CCT course, participants in this study were given daily assessments of their affective state (periods of anxiety, calm, fatigue, or alertness) and their ability to self regulate those states. Results over the entire period of study showed that when participants were experiencing an affective state, they were less likely to use expressive suppression and more likely to show themselves acceptance. Results from this study indicate that compassion training can be used to enhance self regulation strategies. 

Self compassion and well-being

An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits

Kristin Neff et al. 

Here, Neff et al. examine the relationship between self-compassion and the five factor personality model. The results showed that self-compassion had a significant association with happiness, optimism, positive aVect, wisdom, personal
initiative, curiosity and exploration, agreeableness, extroversion, and conscientiousness. One take away from the study was that there self-compassion had the ability to predict psychological health, beyond that attributed to personality. 

Compassion and chronic pain

Compassion meditation training for people living with chronic pain and their significant others: a pilot study and mixed-methods analysis

G. Ruchelli et al. 

This study followed females living with chronic pain before and after a CCT course and their partners. The study found that the women pain and anger decreased by the end of the 9 week CCT course, and that the partner's anger had diminished. 

Compassion's effect on healthcare providers

The effects of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) on health-care workers

Jani​na Scarlet

This study finds that CCT may be helpful in improving certain aspects of the mental health of healthcare workers like mindfulness, self-compassion, compassion toward others, and interpersonal conflict. The implications of this research are that providing CCT to healthcare providers may prevent burnout and improve patient care. 

Loving-kindness meditation: A tool to improve healthcare provider compassion, resilience, and patient care

E. M. Seppala

Researchers explored time efficient options to improve healthcare providers' patient care by having participants participate in 10 minute Loving-Kindness meditation practices. By doing this, they found that participants increased explicit as well as implicit levels of well-being and feelings of social connection to others and decreased focus on the self. With this finding, they explore the implications for decreasing burnout and improving patient care. 

Compassion in a divided world

Evolving beyond the unreal "othering"

Tara Brach

In the midst of political upheaval, Tara Brach discusses the human evolution from othering and dehumanizing out-groups and toward the human race as an interdependent unit. She highlights empathy and compassion in the new brain as the means to achieve that goal.