compassion's place in healing

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive”?   As a child, I thought my mom was just making something up. How can anything be better than receiving a gift? 

Well, science now backs up this quote. Research shows that practicing compassion actually stimulates emotional and physical healing!  When we are able to focus on, not only compassion for others, but also self-compassion, we can observe healing and resiliency thriving.  What better time than now to practice the art of compassion as our nation and communities face this pandemic.  

I won’t get too “sciency” but look at this quote from an article written by Amanda Tust in the Yoga Journal:   “The vagus nerve activates two key systems in the body that impact how you feel: the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. what’s activated when you’re in rest-and-digest mode) and the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-flight-freeze mechanism). Compassion practices help you more readily turn on your parasympathetic nervous system. You become calmer and more relaxed, and your brain functions at its best. Your blood pressure and heart rate go down, and your immune system gets more robust. On the flip side, when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, blood pressure and heart rate increase. Your brain isn’t as sharp as usual, and stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) as well as inflammatory proteins (which are associated with the onset of disease) are released into the bloodstream.”   Isn’t our body so amazing??  

With our new norm of social distancing and self-isolation, how can we utilize the practice of compassion (with ourselves and others) to enhance our own emotional and physical healing? 

  • Find ways to stay connected with family and friends.  Use technology (text, phone call, FaceTime, social media) to send a kind message to a loved one, do a check in with someone you might be concerned about or you feel just needs a little support, keep your social media posts positive and upbeat, have a virtual game night with family and friends and the list could go on and on. 
  • When you do have to venture out to get groceries or other necessary trips, be mindful of respecting and caring for others.  Follow the guidelines set out by the CDC and protect yourself and others from potential exposure. Be patient with others even when they may not be doing the same.  You never know what that other person maybe going through or what kind of stress, fear and anxiety they maybe facing. Your kind word, smile or patience with them could really turn their day around.  Look past the rough exterior and see the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.  
  • According to a recent article on mindful.org, a 2010 study shows that compassion / kindness is contagious!  One act of compassion can multiply THREE times!! Can we commit to at least one act of kindness per day? 
  • Be kind to yourself!  Celebrate imperfection and view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.   Offer grace to yourself and others during this difficult time in our country and world, and not just now, but every, single day. 
let's commit to at least one act of kindness per day

Yesterday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, made the following quote: 

“If ever there is a time to practice humanity – the time is now. The time is now to show kindness, to show some compassion to people.”  

Let’s practice some love and compassion today!

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