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Symposium 2012

Solution for Mental Training towards a Caring Economy

The Challenge

Complex problems, such as climate change or irresponsible deployment of resources, are difficult to resolve without global participation of cooperating partners. To date, these problems have been main ...

Complex problems, such as climate change or irresponsible deployment of resources, are difficult to resolve without global participation of cooperating partners. To date, these problems have been mainly tackled through top-down approaches where governments and international institutions take the role of decision-makers.

Provide mindfulness and compassion training to preschool children as a standard component of their education.

Children have particularly plastic minds, so that mental training is particularly effective in the preschool years. Such training can also have a significant impact in the early school years. Just as an uncompassionate upbringing in early childhood (as in Romanian orphanages three decades ago) has long-term consequences for brain development, so too can compassion training for preschool children.

Compassion training could also serve to introduce secular ethics into schools, based on universal values, common across countries and cultures. Such secular ethics can help to ensure that the next generation creates societies where individualism does not dominate awareness of interdependence, shared humanity and mutual responsibility.

A recent pilot study conducted by Richard Davidson’s team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has highlighted the remarkable effect that a simple eight-week intervention based on very simple mindfulness and compassion training can have on four-year-old preschoolers. It resulted in a significant increase in prosocial behavior and a striking reduction in discrimination between "in-groups” and “out-groups."

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