Dalai Lama visits Madison, promotes "healthy minds" - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dalai Lama visits Madison, promotes "healthy minds"

By Jeff Angileri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Dalai Lama -- the exiled Tibetan leader and Buddhist teacher -- came to Madison Sunday to promote a new research center on the UW campus.

The goal -- discover the science behind happy emotions -- and how they impact our health.

The Dalai Lama, 74, brought his message to the Overture Center, where he and UW neuroscientist Richard Davidson talked to a packed house.

They admitted it sounds crazy -- taking an intangible thing like compassion and seeing if there's biology behind it -- but, if they do find a connection, they say it could open the doors for better health of the mind and body.

"There is a relationship between happiness and physical health. That relationship has been quite well established. What we don't yet understand is how that comes to be," Davidson said.

That's what the center will find out. Contractors are converting a 3,600 sq. ft. space in the Waisman Center, better known for its breakthroughs in stem cell research.

Governor Jim Doyle said the work is already making a difference -- improving the attention span of middle school students, helping veterans cope with war memories, and easing prisoners' time behind bars.

"It's groundbreaking research on how transforming the mind can change the brain and body and improve the quality of life for everyone," Doyle said.

Researchers hope, someday, the science can help treat a variety of conditions and diseases, including one that's had a stranglehold on Wisconsin, alcoholism.

"People who drink a lot -- their minds aren't very calm," the Dalai Lama said. "People say, oh they're drunk."

Feeding the body, he said, doesn't come from substances or negative emotions, but rather by nurturing love, compassion, and happiness.

The center is still under construction. It's expected to open sometime in the fall at a cost of $800,000.

This is the Dalai Lama's 8th visit to Madison.

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