Filmed during Mind & Life Institute’s “Mind and Life XXV: Contemplative Practice and Health: Laboratory Findings and Real World Challenges” on October 20, 2012.

Session One – The Real World

Tranceformation: Hypnosis, Compassion, and Health
SPEAKER: David Spiegel

The observation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that compassion for others involves taking on suffering, but with a voluntary dimension that changes it, is examined in the context of our research on Supportive-Expressive Group Therapy for women with advanced breast cancer. The existential philosophical tradition has long argued a similar perspective, that authentic living comes with facing our limitations, including those imposed by illness. We incorporated this direct approach to dying and death along with the use of hypnosis to alter consciousness and enhance control over pain and anxiety in a group psychotherapy program to help women with advanced cancer. This involves building a community of support with those facing similar challenges. We expected and found that this intervention reduced depression, anxiety, and pain, but were surprised to find an enhancement in survival time in this and other similar studies. Mind-body mechanisms linking better management of the stresses related to cancer to changes in brain, hormonal, and immune function, will be discussed. A new paradigm linking biomedicine with traditions involving contemplation, compassion, and community will be identified as a means of transforming health care by teaching tranceformative skills to people facing life threatening illness.

MODERATOR: Anne Harrington

INTERPRETER: Thupten Jinpa

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Jimmie Holland
Lis Nielsen


David Spiegel, MD

Stanford University

Anne Harrington, PhD

Harvard University

Thupten Jinpa, PhD

Compassion Institute

Board Chair

Mind & Life Connections