University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Cultivating Compassion, Improving Well-Being: Compassion Meditation Founder Joins Norton School Faculty

CONTACT: Charles Raison, MD

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, Founding Director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, Founding and Spiritual Director of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., and creator of Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT) at Emory University has joined the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona as affiliated faculty in support of continued research in the development of compassion and its effects on mental and physical health and well-being.

Dr. Negi is widely recognized as being at the forefront of the interface between science and Tibetan Buddhist knowledge. In addition to creating CBCT, Dr. Negi has been the primary force behind the creation and success of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative. Over the past five years this program has transformed how physical sciences are taught to the many thousands of monks and nuns living in exile in India and Nepal. This work has garnered Dr. Negi many awards, international speaking invitations, frequent coverage in the New York Times and significant financial support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

From his unique position at the intersection of science and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality, Dr. Negi crafted CBCT as a manualized, secular training based on insights from the ancient Tibetan Buddhist lojong meditation practice (literally ‘mind-training’). The goal of CBCT is to cultivate a deeper understanding of our own thought patterns and behaviors, and systematically extend natural feelings of compassion usually reserved for those closest to us to strangers and even those with whom we have conflicts.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Geshe Lobsang join us in furthering our research on the impact and effects of compassion training. We have already begun to develop a promising body of research regarding the positive effects of this practice on how the body handles stress and on how the brain understands the emotions of others,” said Charles Raison, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health, Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona. “We are honored to continue this work with him here at the University of Arizona to explore the impact of CBCT on mental and physical well-being of cancer survivors, youth in foster care, and persons in helping professions at high risk of burnout”

CBCT was developed by Dr. Negi at Emory University in 2004 in response to increasing evidence of mental distress among undergraduates, including several suicides at the University. Approached by a student advocating for resources to help young people manage stress and depression, Dr. Negi developed the CBCT protocol (typically an 8-week course which meets for 2 hours each week) and offered it to students in a study overseen by Dr. Raison. Positive results from this study led to additional studies of CBCT in at-risk adolescents in foster care and elementary school students, as well as an ongoing study of the impacts of CBCT on brain and immune function in healthy adults.

Dr. Negi will serve as the Principal Contemplative Investigator for all University of Arizona research utilizing the CBCT meditation protocol. In this capacity, he will provide technical assistance and consultation to help transfer the teaching of CBCT to Arizona with maximal fidelity. As part of this work he will provide ongoing supervision for trainers certified by him to teach CBCT. The University of Arizona is the first institution outside of Atlanta to offer or conduct research on CBCT.

The University of Arizona’s John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides instructional, research, extension and outreach programs that help strengthen families, communities and the marketplace.

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