Insights from Social Neurosciences: From Training the Brain in Compassion to a Caring Society
In the last decades, our society has faced many global and economic problems that call for new solutions and change. Emerging fields such as affective-social and contemplative neurosciences have produced promising findings that may help inform such necessary changes. For example, plasticity research has suggested that training of mental capacities such as mindfulness and compassion is indeed effective and leads to changes in brain functions associated with increases in positive affect, pro-social behavior, and better health. After summarizing findings on short-term training studies focusing on training empathy and compassion, I will introduce the ReSource Project, a large-scale, multidisciplinary, and methodological oneyear secular mental training program that aims at the cultivation of attention, interoceptive awareness, perspective taking on self and others, metacognition, prosocial motivation, and emotion regulation. This study also includes new ways of training the mind through contemplative intersubjective dyads supported by a web platform allowing for everyday practice with another person. I will conclude by suggesting ways of how the cultivation of mental faculties and compassion could help formulate new economic models aimed at reintroducing secular ethics in society and emphasizing the need to step into a global responsibility through personal change.