5 Science-Backed Reasons to Practice Compassion
Rewire the brain, boost resilience, and repair relationships.
I have previously shared my belief that everyone can benefit from practicing mindfulness and meditation, and I’d like to expand on that with the 5 scientific reasons bringing more compassion into our lives can also help us heal the planet. (And its inhabitants.)
As you may have read in some of my posts about caring for my mom who has Alzheimer’s and in the chapter I wrote for Resilience through Yoga and Meditation last year I felt myself tumbling down a slippery slope into depression and overwhelm. Having spent years battling depression I knew I couldn’t let myself slide too far into that black hole. So I took action. And it was the compassion meditation that saved me.
The compassion meditation is also known as the loving-kindness Mettā meditation, brought me incredible relief and helped mom, too. This is a proven way to increase empathy and a wonderful self-care practice. But if it seems too “soft” as a means for transforming your life and healing the planet, read on!
Why Practice Compassion?
Scientific research suggests that being compassionate can improve our physical health, emotional well-being and naturally, our relationships. Some scientists believe that we have a “compassion gene” suggesting that compassion may even be vital to the survival of our species.
Because compassion is a natural human instinct we believe now that is essential to a healthy and fulfilling life. Compassion naturally bonds and connects us to others. It does not require belief in a religion — but it is a sort of spiritual practice.
In the words of Brené Brown:
Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us. And that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.
The scientific evidence is growing
Below are some of the most promising findings from compassion research I found:
- Compassion helps boost our mood: When we put our compassion to work through charitable giving or helping others, the reward and pleasure circuits in our brains get activated. And many clinical programs show that bolstering the brain circuits for pleasure and reward can produce enduring increases in self-reported happiness.
- Just by learning to tune into others in a loving and compassionate way can help lower the risk of heart disease by improving heart rate variability.
- Researchers at Emory University found that their compassion training program helped people become more resilient, and improved stress resistance by lowering stress hormones. And the compassion training helped to strengthen the immune response, too.
- Compassion brings out the best of us in relationships: When communicating with others, people who are more compassionate tend to be more optimistic and supportive.
- We become nicer when we feel compassion toward one person which spills over into how we treat others. Some research shows that compassionate people are less likely to be mean or vindictive toward others.
Enter the 21-day Compassion Meditation Challenge!
I know from working with people from varied backgrounds, that creating new rituals, routines and habits takes time and support. So I have put together a set of free guided meditations to help you begin the gentle practice of compassion meditation. The 21-Day Compassion Meditation Challenge is your chance to develop and deepen your own understanding of compassion, self-compassion and the simple practice of meditation through firsthand experience.
The only way to discover what truly works for you is by engaging with the practice. That’s why each day I will lead your through a complete guided meditation on compassion. You’ll be invited to tune into your own experience as you develop a better understanding of how to immediately integrate this practice into your daily life.
What benefits would you like to gain from practicing the compassion meditation?
Leave a comment to let me know! I’m curious to know what would change in your world if you had more clarity, inner peace and confidence.
Sign up to receive the free audio meditation and inspiring messages narrated by yours truly.
All my best to you!
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com