Compassion Meditation

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Here is a 17-minute compassion meditation for you to try. Compassion is increasingly the subject of research and many benefits which are vital to our wellbeing have been discovered.

Research has shown that the areas of our brains that are affected when an event happens to us are also affected by our own thoughts, feelings and self-talk. For example, a scary movie might increase your heart rate or make you feel nervous and on edge. But visualising identical scenes yourself can also have the same effect on the same areas of your brain, your heart rate, hormones and body. Going on holidays can be a time of ease, stress relief, joy and indulgence. But visualising, thinking about and immersing yourself in the idea of an upcoming holiday can have the same effect on our mind, emotion and body. In fact, the same areas of the brain show this activity. This is one of the most important points to note for self-compassion, because when you realise that the thoughts and feelings you generate (either idly or with intention) have a profound effect on your mind and body, you can begin to see why it’s worth applying yourself to this skill which serves us so well. By regularly immersing yourself in this state you can change your brain, body and by extension, experience the benefits in your life and relationships. For over twenty years now I’ve included this form of self-development in my work with people when it seems helpful. I have seen the transformation take place in people in my private practice as well as over multiple retreats. Ultimately, compassion creates emotions, motivations and abilities to be supportive, kind, understanding and helpful to ourselves and others.

References:

– Antoine Lutz1*, Julie Brefczynski-Lewis2, Tom Johnstone3, Richard J. Davidson1* “Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise”,1 University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America, 2 West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, United States of America, 3 University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

– Lucre1, Katherine M. Cortenz, Naomi. (2012) “An exploration of group compassion-focused therapy for personality disorder Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice”(2012) C 2012 The British Psychological Society49- Gilbert, Paul (2014)“The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy” British Journal of Clinical Psychology (2014), 53, 6–41 © 2014 The British Psychological Society

– Goleman, D. “Destructive emotions: how can we overcome them?: a scientific dialogue with the Dalai Lama”. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2003

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