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Well being is a Skill

Richard Davidson | 25:30


 It is really a pleasure to be here. Uh, Soren has wanted me to come to this meeting for many years and I haven't been able to. And so this is my first meeting and it really is a joy to be among so many friends and, and new acquaintances. Uh, I'm a psychologist and a neuroscientist by.  and I had the great fortune early in my career to be around some people whose demeanor and whose presence was really infectious to me.

These were the kind of people I wanted to spend more time around. They were very warmhearted, they were very kind. Uh, and they were not my professors at William James Hall at Harvard. Uh, they were people. I was lucky enough to. On the outside. And one of the things that they all had in common that, uh, I began to learn about was a practice, uh, an interest and in a practice of meditation.

And after my second year of graduate school, I went off to India for the first time to get a little taste of what this might be about. And this was back in the mid 1970s. And I came back from, Um, from three months in Asia, from in, in India and Sri Lanka with a fervent conviction that this kind of work was so important for western science to embrace and to investigate, and that these were practices that can offer psychology medicine.

Neuroscience, which was, neuroscience was just beginning then, um, something really.  and I began to do research on this topic back in those days, but it was made very clear to me. I was told in no uncertain terms, Richie, if you want a successful career in science, this is a terrible way to begin. And so I was a dutiful student and I began to study the brain and emotion, which is still very much what I do today.

And I think it's fair to say that for a good 20 years, most of my professional colleagues had absolutely no idea that in the privacy of other domains, I was pursuing my practice of meditation and interest in this area. I was a closet meditator for 20 years, and my life changed in 1992. It. When I first met his Holiness to the Dalai Lama, and uh, we met with him with a small group in Dala, India at his residence.

And he challenged me on that day in 1992, and he said, you've used tools of modern neuroscience to study anxiety and depression and fear. Why can't you use those same tools to study kindness and. And it was a wake up call for me.

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