Cultivating Emotional Balance

Cultivating Emotional Balance is a training program designed to increase happiness and well-being within yourself, as well as in relationship to others and the world around you.

As a foundation of genuine happiness, CEB focuses on the cultivation of mental balance, with a special emphasis on emotional balance.

Cultivating Emotional Balance Logo

Origins

On March of 2000, the Dalai Lama met with behaviorial scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and sociologists, as well as Buddhist monks and scholars, at the VII Mind & Life Dialogue which took place in Dharamsala, India, under the theme “Destructive Emotions”, how these emotions become obstacles for everyday life, and how we can overcome them to lead a more wholesome and happier life.

At the end of the meeting, the Dalai Lama requested that the important ideas raised were put into the creation of an accessible, secular training to help people manage their destructive tendencies and cultivate constructive ones, one that would allow them to better bring genuine happiness to themselves, those around them, society, and the world. Dr. Paul Ekman, Dr. Alan Wallace, accepted the challenge, and, along with others such Dr. Richard Davidson, Dr. Mark Greenberg, and Matthieu Ricard, began developing a 42-hour psycho-educational program called Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB).

Dr. Paul Ekman, world-renowned emotion researcher and Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Francisco, and Dr. Alan Wallace, a Buddhist Scholar and prolific writer, continued developing CEB with consultation from the original Mind and Life group. With the support of the Dalai Lama and others such as Daniel Goleman and Jon Kabat-Zin, the project was expanded and thorough research was published. Now, Cultivating Emotional Balance is taught in over 21 countries around the world.

This project is born from an encounter and cooperation between the two traditions of Western science and the Buddhist contemplative tradition, brought together by one common goal: to contribute to the alleviation of all human suffering and the promotion of human flourishing and well-being.

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VII Mind & Life Dialogue, 2000, Dharamsala, India, under the theme "Destructive Emotions". This 5-day-long meeting was hosted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (center) and in it participated Dr. Richard Davidson (4th right), Dr. Paul Ekman (1st left), Dr. Owen Flanagan (1st right), Dr. Mark Greenberg (4th right), Thupten Jinpa (2nd right), Matthieu Ricard (2nd right), Dr. Jeanne L. Tsai (3rd right), Dr. Francisco J. Varela (5th right), Dr. B. Allan Wallace (3rd right), and Daniel Goleman (6th right), who was in charge of recording the meeting discussions and its outcomes and bring it out the public, which he did through the book Destructive Emotions.

Purpose

How?

Our emotions can be of great to use to us and even save our lives, but many times they actually end up causing us more trouble and suffering, by making us feel, think and behave in ways which are at odds with our ideals and even our happiness.

The problem is, for most of us, emotions are beyond our conscious control. Emotional patterns can feel very hard or even impossible to change, and our emotions can often take hold of us and control us, turning our actions, feelings and thoughts blind, impulsive and compulsive. Emotions can rob us of our freedom of choice, and are out of our control – they just happen to us, and we don’t get to decide.

But does it have to be like that? What about people that are looking for a greater understanding of their emotions and greater choice about their emotional responses? The first step towards choice is becoming more aware of and familiar with our emotional experiences. Cultivating Emotional Balance training puts emotional awareness at its core to help participants move closer to a life of choice.

Along with the special focus on emotion, Cultivating Emotional Balance includes teachings and practices on calming the mind and stabilizing attention, the realization of wisdom, and the cultivation of a good heart. These are fundamental parts of mental balance which are pillar to the cultivation of emotional balance and genuine well-being.

Throughout the program, participants learn to identify the physiology and facial expression of emotions, develop attention skills and mindfulness, as well as cultivate meaningful aspirations for genuine happiness and resilience. A primary goal of CEB is for participants to gain greater flexibility and choice in cognitive and emotional processing.

Paul Ekman on emotions and emotional awareness.

Background

Cultivating Emotional Balance is an evidence-based curriculum that draws from empirical research on emotion, coupled with contemplative practices that are rooted in Buddhist traditions.

CEB training integrates wisdom traditions, contemplative sciences, modern psychology, and scientific emotion research into a secular platform for human transformation. The CEB curriculum features useful and profound theory and practices from both the modern scientific method and knowledge, including psychology, neuroscience and medicine, as well as from the wisdom of the time-tested contemplative tradition with millennia of experience and refinement of Buddhism.

Cultivating Emotional Balance only takes the core wisdom and practices from these traditions and is not associated with any religion, being a completely secular program open to everyone from any background.

Benefits

Backed by Science

In a 2011 study that examined the outcomes of emotion training that Cultivating Emotional Balance is based on, researchers found that the training participants showed:

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  • Significant decrease in depression, anxiety and hostility over a 5-week period
  • Significant increase in affection for others
  • Significant improvement in their ability to detect subtle forms of emotional expression
  • Less emotional and physiological reactivity to a stress test compared to reactivity prior to training

Alan Wallace on cultivating mental and emotional balance.

For more information

To participate in a CEB course