Healing Power of Compassion
From the time we were early-marrieds, we have subscribed, when we could, to Bottom Line and now that we are back in the USA, we have subscribed again. (When we lived overseas, we subscribed, but many of our issues never reached us; now they do!)
I almost didn’t reprint this, but then I saw a message included which said we are welcome to forward this information to friends, family, etc. Well . . . aren’t you my friends?
This technique is wonderful. Helps others, helps you as you practice it.
May 23, 2010
The Healing Power of Compassion
Charles Raison, MD
Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD
Thinking empathetically about other people improves your own health, research shows. Regularly meditating on the well-being of others reduces your body’s inflammatory responses to stress — and that lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes, dementia and other stress-related health problems.
The goal of compassion meditation is to reshape your responses to other people by concentrating on the interconnectedness of every human being.
It’s easy: Try the following technique for 10 minutes a day, three to four times per week.
WEEK ONE. Sit comfortably, eyes closed, breathing deeply. Think about a time when you were kind to another person — for instance, helping a loved one through a crisis or simply holding a door for a stranger. Recognize your great capacity for goodness. For the last few minutes of your meditation, repeat, “May I be free from suffering… may I find the sources of happiness.”
WEEK TWO. Repeat the same exercise, this time building compassion toward a loved one. Think about someone close to you — your mother, daughter, dear friend — and focus on what a blessing she is in your life. Then think about any suffering she is experiencing… and what you can do to ease her pain. Recite: “May she be free from suffering… may she find the sources of happiness.”
WEEK THREE. Think about someone with whom you have only a minor connection — a bus driver, a waiter at your favorite café. How is he a blessing in your life? How might he be suffering? How can you ease his pain (for instance, with a smile and a sincere word of thanks)? Conclude with the recitation.
WEEK FOUR. Focus on someone you dislike — a whiny neighbor, a critical cousin. Identify blessings, perhaps as lessons you have learned about being patient or not judging others. Consider how the person may suffer… for instance, from being a quitter or having few friends. Finish with the recitation.
MOVING AHEAD. Continue to practice several times weekly, incorporating all four types of compassion into your meditation.
Bottom Line/Women’s Health interviewed Charles Raison, MD, clinical director, Mind-Body Program, Emory University School of Medicine… and former Tibetan Buddhist monk Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, senior lecturer, Emory University, and spiritual director, Drepung Loseling Monastery, all in Atlanta.