Lecture on Compassion to address how to make compassion training more effective

Poster with photo of woman meditating in class

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Compassion training is of increasing interest to scientists, health-care providers, educators, and policymakers as both a therapeutic approach for alleviating individual suffering, and, increasingly, as an educational approach for improving social and community relationships. A key figure in the development of this field of science is Paul Condon, associate professor of psychology at Southern Oregon University. On April 6 at 4 p.m. ET, Condon will deliver a free public lecture titled “Recovering the Relational Roots of Compassion Training," about the benefits of integrating psychology and traditional contemplative practices into compassion training.

The lecture will take place virtually via Zoom at this link. No registration is required.

In his lecture, Condon will provide a summary of what is currently known scientifically about compassion training, and will present his own work in psychological science on how meditation practices and programs, designed in collaboration with contemplative experts, can support individual and social flourishing in ways that are responsive to the cultural diversity of participants.

Condon will discuss compassion training “from a ‘relational worldview’ – one in which social relationships are understood as fundamental in the development of individuals’ health, wellbeing, and social behavior,” said event organizer Robert Roeser, who is a Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion and professor of human development and family studies at Penn State.

“Relational compassion practices focus on three key modes and related sets of interpersonal skills, including: (a) the receiving of care, compassion and forgiveness from others; (b) the offering of care, compassion and forgiveness to oneself; and (c) the extending of care, compassion and forgiveness to other people,” Roeser explained.

Initial research findings suggest that the skills associated with these three modes of care are trainable, yielding beneficial outcomes for mental health, physiological and behavioral adaptations to stress, and prosocial behavior, according to Condon.

As part of the lecture, Condon, who is also a long-term student of meditation and trained meditation guide, will offer a short practice to give attendees a taste of what he calls “open secular compassion practices.” This will give attendees a “first-person experience” of what Condon is discussing scientifically in the lecture.

In addition to his professor role, Condon is also a fellow of the Mind & Life Institute and has served as a visiting lecturer for the Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal. His research has been featured in media outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.

This is the sixth lecture in Penn State’s annual Lecture on Compassion series, an initiative developed and funded by Mark Greenberg, Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research, and his wife, Christa Turksma, a curriculum developer and teacher of mindfulness skills. The forum is intended to showcase the findings and perspectives of outstanding researchers and practitioners in the areas of awareness, compassion and empathy.

The College of Health and Human Development and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center host the annual event. For more information on the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, visit prevention.psu.edu.

People Mentioned in this Article

Robert W. Roeser