The heart of compassion centers on the selfless compulsion to alleviate suffering. While compassion is similar to empathy and sympathy in the ability to commiserate and feel another’s emotions, the spirit of compassion moves a person to act in order to reduce pain. Compassion is the central tenet of many belief traditions, most notably Buddhism, and has been rigorously studied in recent decades for its physical and mental health benefits. Learning to be compassionate toward others—and ourselves—is a cornerstone to many aspects of well-being.
In her work at the Osher Center and as an affiliate faculty member of the Neuroscape Center, Dr. Helen Weng is developing new ways to quantify meditation skills using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and machine learning to identify mental states of body awareness during meditation.
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