May 6, 2011 Joan Halifax to Discuss Empathy and Compassion in Caregivers to the Ill and Dying, May 12

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-7678

Zen Buddhist Roshi Joan Halifax, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will talk about empathy and compassion on the part of caregivers who are tending to the ill and dying. A follow-up will be given by Dr. George Chrousos, who will discuss the stressors caregivers may experience.

Halifax, a distinguished visiting scholar at the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, will present “Inside Compassion: Edge States, Contemplative Interventions, Neuroscience” at 4 p.m., Thursday, May 12, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

Halifax has coined the term “edge states” for the challenges faced by clinicians and others who care for the dying. She will focus on the neuroscience of mindfulness and compassion, covering six contemplative interventions that are useful for clinicians.

A Buddhism practitioner since 1965, Halifax is the abbot and head teacher of the Upaya Zen Center and Institute in Santa Fe, a Zen Peacemaker community that she founded in 1990. She has trained clinicians and cared for dying people since 1970, and in 1994 she founded the Project on Being with Dying. Books written by Halifax include “Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death” (2008) and “The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth” (1994).

Chrousos, who holds the Chair in Technology and Science at the Kluge Center, is one of the world’s most prominent clinical investigators, engaging in extensive research into the interrelationships between the nervous and endocrine systems and studying the physiology of stress in biological systems. At the Kluge Center, he has been writing a comprehensive study for the public on “The Profound Impact of Stress on Contemporary Humanity.” He is professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Athens University Medical School in Greece, and was the first general director of the Foundation of Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens (2001–2002).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 11-098
ISSN 0731-3527