Compassion

Last week I wrote about Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and researcher of meditation. His research shows how meditation changes the brain and benefits us profoundly. Fascinating to find research that actually proves there is something we can do right here, to improve overall health. Meditation is one of them.

Dr. Davidson has been looking at war veterans who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. If you did not get a chance to read it, here it is

Today my post is about the connection between meditation and compassion. Dr. Davidson’s research shows that our ability to be compassionate, increases when meditating regularly and our capacity actually increases the more we meditate.

Compassion, including self-compassion! is such an important capacity  – when we are met with compassion, we are more relaxed, we are happier, we perform better, we laugh more, we enjoy life more -we grow and feel nourished. When we feel compassion, we are better parents, friends and lovers.

The Dalai Lama heard of Dr. Davidson’s research and invited him to Dharamsala India, to interview monks with extensive experience in meditation. Davidson was amazed by the level of compassion he experienced there.

I hope you will give yourself time to see this interview about compassion, with Dr Davidson here – it is a great interview!

Meditation is an act of self-compassion. It fulfills a need – a deep underlying need for just being, in peace and stillness. When we satisfy our needs and allow ourselves to be with whatever is, we reconnect to love and compassion residing inside us. Research shows that it builds the area in the brain, adding to the capacity of compassion.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”  The Dalai Lama

Compassion

Be positive – is something we hear often or even say to others. However it is very hard to be positive in an authentic way if there is something underneath that is bothering us or even hurting us. It is like a beach ball, if we try to hold he bugger down down under water, but it keeps coming up to the surface as soon as we let go of it. Shame, pain and worry are all signs that we need to find a place where we feel safe to talk – share how we really feel from the heart with someone who knows how to be compassionate and listen.

Quite often when we find out that we are not alone shame disappears and the pain dissolves – feelings are not dangerous. They are there to guide us.

When we suppress our needs and feelings, it creates an imbalance that we may experience in many different ways: lack of sparkle, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, overeating or addictions etc. These symptoms are also the body’s way of getting our attention to the fact that something is wrong – that we have become disconnected from ourselves.

Underneath dissatisfaction, stress or low self esteem are feelings. Many of us have had to disconnect from those feelings because they were not accepted where we came from when we were little. That is totally natural and in fact very wise, we needed to survive. The problem is If we cannot feel them we will not know how to protect ourselves, set boundaries or feel what is good for us. Feel what it is that we need to do in order to feel content again. The feelings have a message for us and we need them in order to navigate in our lives. Feelings are our personal GPS they are part of our true nature and when we start to sense them again, we receive balance and harmony in return, a sense of contentedness and freedom. This is where positive and happiness comes natural and not as a thing we try to pretend we are.

Jung said: Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens

If you feel there is something underneath that stops you from feeling content and happy I recommend:

  • Meet with a trusted, supportive and compassionate friend and share
  • Consult your diary – diaries are great. Here  you can write anything and no one needs to see it. Pour your heart out on the pages
  • You may want to find a good therapist, coach or psychologist
  • Be compassionate and mild with yourself
  • Meditate, take some time to be alone

Even if we are not quite sure what is bothering us talking, sharing, writing and meditating are all ways to heal.