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Compassion is the feeling of caring for and wanting to help others who are suffering. The following audio files and scripts were created as part of a study into the effectiveness of compassion meditation conducted by Principal Investigator Helen Weng with Drew FoxAlex Shackman, Diane Stodola, Jessica Kirkland Caldwell, Matt Olson, Greg Rogers, and Richard Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds.

Meditation Training

Compassion meditation is an ancient Buddhist meditation practice designed to increase feelings of compassion and wanting to help others.

In this 30-minute guided meditation, you will cultivate feelings of compassion for loved ones, for yourself, strangers as well as people you have difficulty with. Compassion meditation is like training the compassion muscle, starting with the lightest weight of a loved one and working up to a heavier weight of a difficult person.

This training was scientifically validated to show that practicing compassion meditation for 30 minutes a day for two weeks increased altruistic behavior and changed the brain’s responses to human suffering.

Learn more about the study.

Cognitive Reappraisal Training

Cognitive reappraisal is learning to re-interpret the meaning of situations to decrease negative emotions and stress.

This 30-minute reappraisal training was used as a control intervention for compassion meditation and teaches three new ways of looking at situations: understanding from another person’s perspective, adopting a new perspective yourself and looking at the situation as if a year had gone by.

This training is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be an effective treatment for conditions such as depression and anxiety.