You may be just eight weeks away from greater compassion, according to new research by Northeastern University’s David DeSteno. The new study, published in Psychological Science, sheds light on what is possible.
“We know meditation improves a person’s own physical and psychological well-being,” said Condon. “We wanted to know whether it actually increases compassionate behavior.”
•Two forms of meditation were used.
• Compassion was measured by observing the tendency to help someone in physical pain when others nearby were unwilling.
• 15% of non-meditating participants were willing to help the person in pain.
• 50% of meditating participants were willing to help.
• Among the 50%, it did not seem to matter which form of meditation they were using.
“The truly surprising aspect of this finding is that meditation made people willing to act virtuous – to help another who was suffering – even in the face of a norm not to do so,” DeSteno said. The fact that others were ignoring the person in pain creates a ‘bystander-effect’ that normally tends to reduce helping.
Meditation as a general discipline has enough positive evidence to back it that it should be considered a no-brainer for anyone interested in living a conscious life. Among the benefits of meditation are: stress reduction, reduced inflammation, increased compassion, more energy, more personal discipline and a greater overall sense of well-being.
A lot of people resist the idea of compassion because they believe they would be more likely to let people off the hook. A client once told me, “If I were more compassionate, I’d get run over. People would take advantage of me all day long.”
This fear is not based on compassion, but on a misunderstanding of compassion. In fact, allowing people to take advantage of you is the opposite of compassion.
When this particular client “got it” he confessed that he already felt taken advantage of daily. When he realized that he wasn’t doing anyone, including himself, any favors by allowing them to use him, he began to develop more compassion. Interestingly, he also found himself more willing to say “No.” Sometimes no is the respectful thing to say!
Which parent is more compassionate – the one who indulges children by letting them do whatever they want, or the one who says no and makes the effort to set boundaries?
Whether you need to say yes or no more of the time, it seems that compassion is the lens through which the best choices are made. It’s nice to know that tools like meditation can make it more accessible.
It is so simple! Just choose a form of meditation and practice it for eight weeks. By then, you will never want to stop! You’ll be more compassionate, which means you will experience fewer harsh emotions toward others and yourself. Amazing! Why wouldn’t you simply accept this profound opportunity and go for it?
If you are skeptical, then perhaps you are worried about self-sabotage. This is the number one, universal obstacle in the way of success in most endeavors. You are skeptical because you do not believe you will follow through. Unfortunately, this is very common!
If self-sabotage is your concern, I invite you to view a free video that revolutionizes conventional approaches to self-sabotage.
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Last reviewed: 1 Apr 2013