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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 111 His Holiness the SEL curriculum called PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies). He described the curriculum’s five central goals (awareness of one’s own and other’s emotions; the ability to put emotions into words; the ability to calm oneself when emotionally aroused; the abil- ity to plan ahead and consider conse- quences; and greater compassion and empathy) and he told the Dalai Lama that the program works. “With careful randomized trials,” Greenberg said, “we have been able to show that we can help children to become more emotionally aware and we can help them to increase their pro- social behavior—their kindness, caring, and compassion. Children’s aggressive behavior and sadness and anxiety decrease substantially, and we can cre- ate safer and more loving atmospheres in the classrooms.” And, by implication, in society. THE DALAI LAMA makes a pretty good SEL instructor himself. The ses- sion in Vancouver entitled Nurturing Compassion was billed as his first dia- logue exclusively with young people, including both emcees and the mod- erator, and the audience was made up largely of students from Vancouver- area high schools. The Dalai Lama was joined onstage by student panelists whose stories about compassion had been chosen as the best among the thousands submitted. After a video presentation of their stories, each asked the Dalai Lama a question about It was ironic that the robed monk from the exotic Asian land emphasized the intellect, while the Western Ph.D.s and education experts at the confer- ence spoke in the “softer” language of emotions. Yet both approaches—brain to love, love to brain—represent a kind of mindfulness. “When the brain is flooded with anger or hatred, it can’t reason. What we’ve found is that when children get a social and emotional learning cur- riculum, they improve their ability to stop and delay, not to be caught up in their impulses, to have more control over their reasoning abilities,” SEL researcher Mark Greenberg told the Dalai Lama. “That change explains why they reduce aggressive behavior and why they suffer less depression. “This is a form of mindfulness in a sense. What we are doing in these cur- riculums is helping children control their arousal and put into words their inner lives. They’re able to gain control over their impulses, and as a result, improve their thinking skills. We’ve found that the brain changes that take place are very similar to the changes that Dr. Richard Davidson has shown occur when adults have mindfulness training.” And—music to the Dalai Lama’s very practical ears—the SEL move- ment proves both that compassion can be taught and that it brings posi- tive benefits. Greenberg outlined for Educating the Heart continued from page 65 HOLLYHOCK NINTH PAGE MARKETPLACE • EXQUISITE HOLIDAYS & RETREATS • INTRIGUING PROGRAMS • RESTORATIVE GETAWAYS FREE CATALOGUE 800.933.6339 • hollyhock.ca CORTES ISLAND, BC Sweet Spot HHOOLLLLYYHHOOCCKK CORTES ISLAND, BC Integrating field science, spirit and action for service to the earth and its inhabitants. BA Environmental Studies MA Environmental Leadership “Iftheworldistobehealed...itwillbebypeoplewho can open to the web of life that called us into being. . . .” – Joanna Macy www.naropa.edu Boulder, Colorado • 800-772-6951 Environmental Studies