Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) is a training program, which emerged during a Mind & Life dialogue between behavioral scientists, a neuroscientist, a monk, a philosopher, and the Dalai Lama in 2000. The 2000 meeting in Dharamsala featured many Western experts in different fields of science who spent a week in dialogue with the Dalai Lama discussing “Destructive Emotions.” Dr. Paul Ekman, world-renowned emotion researcher and professor emeritus at the University of California San Francisco, presented an evolutionary view of emotion, in which he maintained that emotions are not inherently destructive, for if they were they would not have been preserved over the course of evolution (www.paulekman.com/).

On the fourth day of the meeting, looking directly at Ekman, the Dalai Lama asked if this was just going to be talk, or whether something was going to happen to improve the emotional lives of people around the world. Ekman took up the challenge and said he thought an innovative training program could be developed combining Western exercises to develop more skillful emotional behavior, with Eastern meditative practices. The Dalai Lama was enthusiastic, requesting that the meditative practices be secular in nature. Dr. B. Alan Wallace agreed to be the lead for incorporating meditative practices. Wallace is a scholar and prolific writer who spent fourteen years as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He is ordained by the Dalai Lama, and is the president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Insight Studies (www.sbinstitute.com).

Over the course of the next day, Paul Ekman, Alan Wallace and scientists Mark Greenberg and Richard Davidson, began to sketch out what such a training program would comprise and how its impact could be best evaluated. The name of the program, “Cultivating Emotional Balance,” was generated in that first day of discussion. Ekman and Wallace continued developing CEB with consultation from the original Mind & Life group, who assisted in program development and research design to capture the effects of the CEB training. The Dalai Lama gave the first $50,000, and an additional $800,000 was raised with help from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Goleman and the Fetzer institute to conduct a thorough research trial of CEB. Paul Ekman attended the pilot study for CEB and recruited Margaret Kemeny an expert in clinical trials research to run the research. Margaret Cullen and Alan Wallace provided the training. Details on the findings from the original research can be found here.