4 Practical Ways to Maintain Hope in Troubled Times

EmbodiedEmotionA friend recently asked me, if I could offer any quick and practical suggestions for maintaining hope during troubled times — times of polarized politics, international uncertainty,  and when determining if news stories are true or false becomes difficult.  She said she was beside herself with overwhelm and stress, and knew that I’d published a book on compassion.

The answer to her question can be complex, but in keeping with her request for quick suggestions I wanted to share these ideas.

1) Choose to manage or control what occupies your mind. 

This may sound overly simple, but at the most basic level we DO have a choice over our minds. We really CAN choose to manage what stories spin in our brains. However, choosing to control what occupies our minds takes patience, courage, and practice. Often it is easier to let our mind run wild rather than reining it in.

Think about it, how often do you let your mind run wild? We all do it. We all come up with stories about the future. We all ruminate about the past. However we do have a choice about how long we let those stories run.

When we hear reports on the news about another shooting, another bombing, or another investigation it is easy to become overwhelmed. But, we also need to continue living our lives, doing things in this present moment to help ourselves, our families and friends, and communities. We can’t afford to let our overwhelm and distress bog us down, as that does not serve anyone.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, observe the choices you’re making in the moment. Noticing these choices brings you into present moment awareness. Present moment awareness helps prevent ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Check out this Infographic for ways to help settle your mind. 

If you are motivated to and can actively create positive change, by all means act — send postcards, make calls, go on marches! But if  what troubles you is elsewhere and you don’t have the ability to do anything but think or theorize about an event, consider shifting your mindset to something that is positive and productive right where you are. 

2) Pay attention to your breath.

Now that you’ve made the choice to rein in your wild mind, turn your attention to your breath.  Try this breathing exercise as a way to slow down your breath, slow down your thoughts, and connect with your body.

Inhale slowly, all the way into your belly, for a count of four. Gently hold your breath for a count of four. Exhale fully for a count of four. Gently hold the exhale for a count of four. Then repeat that process a few times.

Sometimes something as simple as connecting to your breath and body in the present moment is enough to break a cycle of distressful thinking. This technique is also really effective for dealing with stress, for example if a conversation is becoming overheated, or if you’ve just received some difficult news but you’re not in the right place to sit with it.

3) Consider the idea that unskillful behavior comes from unmet needs.

When we hear of tragic events such as mass shootings, bombings, or ongoing legislative uncertainty, it can be easy to direct our ire to the we perceive to be the cause of the problem. Often the last thing we want to do is extend compassion to the person or people that have wrought havoc on the lives of many.

However, what would it feel like to consider that the ones committing crimes were people too. They all have parents (in one form or another); they all have friends (of one sort or another); they’re all human beings. Somehow, at some point something caused them to decide harming others was the right course of action.

But, we don’t know their back-story. We don’t know what their lives were like. We don’t know what they needed— love, security, food, role-models, training— to help them make different choices. Sometimes the worst choices arise because people are afraid, hurt, hungry, or lonely.

I’m not saying that harmful unskillful actions are just. I am saying that perhaps we can come to some sort of internal peace if we recognize that each of these individuals is human, and as such we share a common link.

Often extending compassion to another, even if we don’t know that person directly, can help us move into a place of peace. Perhaps it can help us move from being beside ourselves with grief and outrage, to a place of uncomfortable acceptance.

4) Move beyond empathy to compassion.

Compassion combines:

1) Awareness—acknowledging distress in yourself or others;

2) Empathy—being emotionally moved by this distress;

3) Action—making some sort of response, which could involve some sort of physical action, or it could be as subtle as mentally/intentionally sending someone well-wishes.

Sometimes when we get stuck in that place of overwhelm or grief, it is because we’ve stopped at the second step, empathy. With empathy I “feel your pain,” and sometimes I get stuck right there with you.

With compassion we move beyond that stage of empathy and take action. Taking action allows us to move through that  stuck place of distress. Truly, the action can be as simple as intentionally wishing someone well. Bring to mind an image of someone in distress. Open your heart to the idea of compassionate action. Take some slow deep breaths, and with each exhalation imagine sending peace, love, kindness, support, compassion to the one you’re holding in mind.

Want more ideas?

This post just covers a few very quick and practical ideas for shifting from distress to hope. Making a permanent change takes courage, patience, and continual practice.

Dive deeper into these concepts and more in the Cultivating Mindful Compassion course. Meet weekly with your peers to discuss how compassion shows up in your daily life in the Cultivating Compassion Club. Or for daily inspiration pick up a copy of Cultivating Compassion: Simple Everyday Practices for Discovering Peace of Mind and Resilience. 

3 Useful Benefits of Participating in a Personal Growth Group

How do YOU nurture personal development?

Are you inspired by positive personal growth, extending acceptance and compassion for yourself and others? 

Do you experience days when striving to be your best-self is overwhelming and you want to hide under a rock?

Both of these perspectives are aspects of being human. Some days being open-hearted is easy, and some days it isn’t. Welcome to the duality of being human!

Choosing to be your best-self in all circumstances takes diligence and hard work. Social and cultural norms are often stacked against us.

Many of us grew up learning that good girls don’t talk back, ever. Good boys don’t show vulnerability. Nice people put others first at all costs. If you extend compassion to yourself you’re a slacker.

This is why finding a community of like-minded people is critical. It provides support on your down days, and allows you to encourage others when they need it. 

As each person  grows on  his or her own, while assisting other members in the community, a ripple effect of kindness, acceptance, and compassion flows outward to your loved ones, to people you see often but don’t know well, and even to those you find to be difficult.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

As you strive toward being your best-self daily, let’s examine the benefits of joining a like-minded community

1) A group creates accountability and reinforces good habits

Some days, when you’re on your own, it is easy to give up and revel in small mindedness.

Like meeting friends at the gym for group fitness class motivates you to work out, finding a group focused on personal growth provides encouragement for developing a consistent outlook. Being accountable to a group while you’re enhancing your personal development reduces the likelihood that you will throw in the towel.

Joining a group reinforces why you’ve chosen to do the hard work of being an inspiring, fantastic, open-hearted person. It gives you a boost of encouragement to continue with your own individual cultivation at home.

Walking a path of acceptance and compassion for self and others takes mental and emotional effort and energy, which often, in turn, gives rise to resistance. Participating with a group of like-minded people, who share your ideological beliefs and values and are focused on personal growth, creates accountability for actually walking that path.

2) A group offers opportunity to receive feedback and share ideas

Personal growth groups often include participants of varying levels.

If you’re new to embracing self-acceptance or working with your inner-critic, you may find that other members of your group provide useful insight and help you see new ways of viewing difficulties. Group members share their own experiences, successes and challenges, which often provide new perspectives. The group dynamic uplifts and empowers everyone present.

Working on self-acceptance and self-compassion with only books or online guides as aids often leads to sporadic practice. Therefore, facilitated groups provide an opportunity to maintain something more than is achieved at home alone.

Knowing others around you face the same challenges helps ease isolation and builds resilience. Often hearing stories of how someone else dealt with the same challenge inspires you to continue moving forward.

3) A group creates community

Participating in community supports your individual inward journey. Connecting with others who share your intentions for world peace is inspiring and motivating. Participating in a group reduces isolation and loneliness and helps you recognize that “just like me”, others experience these same challenges.

Sharing this path for personal growth also lets you come together with shared intentions for change. Global movements often begin with a small handful of people strongly unified by a common intent. Applying Gandhi’s suggestion to “be the change you wish to see in the world” becomes easier when you are part of a collective crowd.

When actively practicing personal growth strategies you become part of the planet’s evolution, not its degradation. Individually you may not see the effect of living life with acceptance and compassion, but the group effect multiplies each single member’s actions and intentions.

We’d be honored if you choose Cultivating Compassion Club to be your personal growth group!

“Cultivating Compassion Club is a supportive and uplifting way to dedicate time, compassion and energy for oneself, so that one can authentically and graciously dedicate time, compassion and energy to others. Amy’s experience and expertise serve as a gentle guide for each participant in their path towards more ease and joy for life.” MPP

Cultivating Compassion Club provides:

  • Weekly small group meditation, coaching, and conversation sessions geared toward helping you move toward peace of mind and resilience
  • Support from like-minded people who are inspired grow and become even better
  • Daily inspirations and rich conversation via a private FB group
  • Access to a library of Amy Pattee Colvin’s guided meditations, with new additions monthly

“Amy is an excellent group moderator. I was impressed by her ability to tie our discussions back to the overall theme of compassion that we were focusing on. The group discussions were encouraging, comfortable and I left feeling lighter and thoughtful of things I would like to implement in my practice of mediation and self compassion.” Melissa Kinsky

Be sure to check out Amy Pattee Colvin’s Amazon Bestseller, Cultivating Compassion available on Amazon.com

5 Elements of Meditation

Five Elements of Meditation (Infographic)

All of us have heard about the benefits of eating healthfully, exercising regularly, sleeping well, spending quality time with loved ones. And, many of us are familiar with the concept of meditation but either convince ourselves that we can’t or don’t know how to do it, we don’t have time for it, or don’t fully understand its impact on our daily life.

However, meditation has been shown to be an excellent exercise for the brain. By deliberately and actively choosing where we place our attention we begin building new neural pathways and networks.

Meditation for long periods at a time, 45 minutes or more, has value. But most of us simply don’t have the freedom to carve out that much time. Instead committing to a short daily practice of 3-5 minutes is a great way to get started and create a sustainable habit.

Take a moment right now to try a simple mindful compassion meditation.

Read through the infographic, and then choose an anchor for yourself. Your anchor could be your breath, the center of your body, an image—real or imagined— that brings peace and calm. Anything can be the anchor for your attention. It is simply a place upon which to rest your attention.

5-elements-of-meditation

Settle yourself into a comfortable position then set a timer for three minutes. All you need to do is pay attention to your anchor, detach from other thoughts, be aware when your mind has wandered and note where it has gone but don’t linger there, then kindly bring yourself back to your anchor. Repeat this cycle as often as necessary within the three minutes.

The process seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? In fact it may seem like you’re not really doing much of anything. But every aspect of this cycle strengthens your mind. You are practicing patience, and honing your ability to self-compassionately focus your mind and emotions. This in turn helps you deal more nimbly and resiliently with all of life’s challenges.

If you’d like to learn more about developing a mindful compassion meditation practice join us for one of our upcoming programs.

Exploring Inner-Peace on Winter Solstice

image3Being at peace with yourself sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But we know it certainly isn’t always easy.

As we gain awareness of our emotions and thoughts, and as we authentically begin to believe and accept that we are enough just as we are, being at peace with ourselves becomes easier.

Today let’s look at releasing comparisons of ourselves to those around us.

Embracing this concept is particularly beneficial during the holidays when we engage with people we see rarely throughout the year.

We all do this one time or another—we see someone else and wish we had their attributes or their stuff, or their social position, or skills.

But ultimately all of those comparisons are external facing, and crop up when we’re not feeling 100% content with ourselves—when we are in moments of self-judgment.

When we are truly content with ourselves we begin to let go of juxtapositions; we begin to accept ourselves as we are, and we begin to accept others as they are without a need to hold both side-by-side.

YOU ARE A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL. Embrace that.

HELPFUL TIPS:

1) Focus your awareness on your own successes

  • You are a unique person, and the only one who has lived your life. Take a moment to consider all the things you do well, big or small. 
  • You have the capacity to love, create, serve, and contribute. Let that shine through you in authentic ways. 
  • Figure what you love about your skills and knowledge, and aspire to pursue those things more often.

2) Compete less, appreciate more

  • At certain times competition is appropriate, but not all moments of life need to be competitive.
  • Look at the times when you compare yourself to others, does it arise due to competition? If so, how would things be different if you approached that moment with a collaborative perspective? 
  • Rather than looking at others as competitors, find a way to appreciate them. Admire the strengths in others and help yourself grow your own strengths. 
  • Practice routinely appreciating and complimenting the contribution of others, and notice how that effects your mind and spirit.

3) Express gratitude daily

  • Notice the good things about yourself and the world around you. 
  • Notice external things: the birds outside the window, the shape of clouds overhead, how comfortably those shoes fit on your feet, the warmth of the water in the shower. Feel gratitude for the beauty surrounding you. 
  • Notice the internal things: the kindness you extended to someone yesterday, the love you have for your dear friend, the willingness to become healthier in spirit, body, and mind through exploring new ideas. Be grateful for them.

As you move through your day today, pause for a moment each hour and gauge your level of internal peace.

If you’re feeling distressed or agitated, drop your gaze, take a few deep breaths, and detach from your thoughts.

Remind yourself that you have a choice about how you feel in the moment.

You may not be able to change the current circumstances but you have complete control over how you react to those circumstances.

Consciously move toward being at peace.

Sending best wishes for a peaceful day!

If you’re looking for a few more helpful tips and techniques like this, enroll in the FREE 9-day email series: 9 Ways to Cultivate Peace During the Holidays.

And, If you like the idea of being more at home in your own skin, you’ll love our new Morning Meditation series. 

A New Approach to Remembering September 11

Today is September 11th. 9/11. 911. Fifteen years ago today, the morning news greeted people in the United States with stories of a horrific act of terror unlike any other in this country. Today, we remember, we grieve; we all have our own stories of where we were, and how we heard the news.  For many today may be a day of sadness.cultivating-compassion-911v2

However, we are resilient. We have a choice to rise above grief and despair. We have a choice to remember the value in all humanity, regardless of faith, or ethnicity.

September 11th is the formal launch date for my new book, Cultivating Compassion: Simple Everyday Practices to Discover Peace of Mind and Resilience, and I chose this date with intention. I wanted to create an opportunity for people to look at this date  with a different perspective through offering tools and techniques to help all of us become more accepting and compassionate for self. From this foundation of self-acceptance and self-compassion, we start to extend those qualities outward.

Cultivating Compassion has 66 very short chapters. Every chapter has an inspirational theme, followed by self-reflection questions and suggestions for informal practice. Through this format,  readers become actively engaged and creating new perspectives through self-exploration and action. 

Here is an excerpt from the book: 

Day 56: Curtailing Criticism

Don’t make fun of anyone. Curtail your criticism and judgment of others.

Do you know people who constantly complain and rarely say anything good about others? Do you act like that yourself sometimes? We all do. Unfortunately, it is a pretty common response to the world. But, we can choose not to behave that way.

As you cultivate appreciation and acceptance of yourself, your capacity to appreciate others for who they are expands.

Consider that unskillful behavior may arise from unmet needs. Before you criticize someone else, take a moment to think of what really might be driving the behavior that you find challenging.

Is that person lonely, bored, angry, hungry, or anxious? If you consider the humanity in the other person, perhaps you’ll find that extending some warmth, rather than criticism, helps you become more peaceful. This may not work in all circumstances, but it is worth trying. If you still choose to judge and criticize, take a closer look at what unmet need is behind your choices.

Undoubtedly some people’s actions may seem unforgivable, but, in day-to-day circumstances, see if you can take a moment to recognize that we’re all human, and as such, we have similar basic needs. This may help you curtail your criticism and judgment of others. As you do, see if you find a greater sense of peace within yourself.

Self-Reflection:

Am I often critical of myself or others? How does this feel in my body? How do I break this cycle?

Informal Practice:

Today I will practice non-judgment. I will notice when I am being critical of myself or others, and I will stop that cycle by taking a few deep breaths, bringing awareness to my body, and then shift into a mindset of acceptance.

TODAY is the day to download this book for FREE. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

 

Adopt a Positive Mindset in 5 Simple Steps

Adopt a Positive Mindset in 5 Simple Steps

Oscar the GrouchDo you sometimes have a plain old grouchy day? Do you ever find yourself replaying a fight with a friend over and over in your head? Do you sometimes get hit with the blues or the blahs and you feel like you have a hard time shaking it off?

All of these states of mind are part of being human. We all go through one or all of these states fairly regularly. But… we also have the power to do something about it.

I know this from personal experience. Once upon a time I was fairly anxious and worried and I made up all kinds of disaster fantasies that would never really come true. Why did I do this? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. For whatever reason, that was just the way my brain tended to drift. So I can tell you, I’ve been there. I didn’t like how it felt emotionally or physically. I didn’t like the kind of friend I was being. I didn’t like how I was treating myself.

I can’t tell you exactly how or when the change came about, but I can tell you that through a process of time, attention, and thoughtfulness I changed the way I think. Current research has shown that people, at any age, have the capacity to retrain their brains.

So, if you occasionally get hit with the blues, anxiety, “monkey mind”, remember that you have the power to change your thought patterns. If you choose to. If you work at it.

Don’t let the title fool you. The steps are simple. Taking action on them takes work.

I’m not offering a quick fix that will manifest a positive mindset tomorrow. I’m offering suggestions that I know will work, if you want them to, if you take action.

WhatFiresTogetherWiresTogether1) Acknowledge that you have choice in where your thoughts take you

The first step to creating a positive mindset, or happier outlook (whatever you want to call it) is acknowledging that you have choice about what is going on in your head.

You have a choice about mentally rehashing that fight with your friend last week. You have a choice about being anxious about your upcoming review. You have a choice about whether or not to be pissed off at the current state of politics in the US or the world.

Knowing that we CAN turn off the auto-pilot… that we DO have a choice in what occupies our mind… is the first step to adopting a positive mindset.

Awareness is the key. It is the first step.

Negative Stories2) Recognize negative stories as they’re happening

Recognizing stories as they’re happening requires us to be present. Present moment awareness, sometimes called mindfulness or meditation, is useful for many reasons.

One of those reasons is to help cultivate awareness of when our minds are spinning out of control.

When our minds spin we’re often creating stories about the past or future. The past is in the past, so unless you’re creating an action to plan to resolve what has already taken place, there is little point in ruminating about it. The future is in the future. While constructive planning is beneficial, if you’re creating disaster stories, remember they’re just stories.

I know a couple of people who are disaster preppers, and though it is valuable to have supplies on hand for emergency, there is a downside to spending emotional and mental energy worrying non-stop about the next earthquake.

When you notice you’re telling yourself stories in your head check-in with yourself to see if they’re making you feel peaceful or anxious. If these stories are not serving you well, acknowledge them (rather than suppressing or denying them) and put them to rest.

Take a moment to break the thought cycle by taking a few deep breaths. Inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Repeat a couple of times as necessary. This acts like a reboot for your mind.

EmbodiedEmotion3) Notice how your body feels

This step also requires present moment awareness. Sometimes we get so caught up in our minds that we totally forget to pay attention to how our bodies feel. But our bodies can tell us quite a bit about how we’re doing in general.

Take a moment… yes, right now… to notice how your body feels.

Do you feel tension or discomfort anywhere? Where are you feeling most relaxed? How does your belly feel? What is your breathing like? Often we go through an entire day or week without paying attention to any of this.

Bodies can be a huge indicator of our mental and emotional state.

Over time, with practice, I’ve become able to identify how different emotions feel in my body. A few months ago I received some distressing news. And immediately my belly got knotted up. Over the next 24 hours as I listened to my body what I realized that I thought was anger and fear was really sadness. I didn’t make the connection intellectually. I needed my body to tell me what was really going on.

So the next time you notice you’re feeling tense or have butterflies in your stomach, notice what you’re thinking. If you’re stressed out or worried, go back to step 2 and try out that breathing exercise. See if that helps.

Learn Self-Acceptance4) Go outside and revel in the beauty of nature

Another way of helping to break the negative mental cycle, and help our bodies feel better, is to go outside.

Get some fresh air. Get a bit of sunshine, or breeze, or gentle rain on our face. Connect with something that is growing. Take a walk.

Whether you live near a park, a forest, or the water or in the city, look for something that is green and alive. Listen to the birds. Notice the temperature and the humidity.

Oh… there is that present moment awareness idea again… Focusing attention on nature and life outside of yourself is a great way to move into a positive mental mindset.

Help_Others5) Do something kind for someone else

The last tip is to create connection with someone or something else. Get out of your own mind through extending kindness to another.

The act of making someone else happy, extending even the smallest of kindnesses to another, helps us feel better about ourselves.

Hold a door for someone. Smile and say hello to someone. Give your dog an extra snuggle.

All of these actions help us move beyond ourselves, creating a sense of connection with the world around us.

Choose one or all of these tips to put into action TODAY. Repeat them tomorrow. Repeat for a week, and then a month. Pretty soon, these simple techniques will help develop a positive mindset and will lead down the path of living a more content and joyful life.

10 Science-Based Benefits of Compassion Meditation

10 Science-Based Benefits of Compassion Meditation

Compassion Meditation CoursesIn western culture, meditation was once thought of as a new-agey, mystical practice. But with the growing popularity of mindfulness, meditation has become more main stream.  For years researchers have studied and validated the benefits of mindfulness, and now a different branch of meditation, compassion meditation, shows scientifically supported benefit as well.

Compassion meditation (sometimes known as loving kindness meditation) is the process of sitting with self while maintaining a connection to our emotional heart. It is the process of relaxing into the breath and body, and connecting with emotions as they arise. From that connected state we set the intention of cultivating kindness and compassion then extend it to self and others. 

Even if you don’t feel particularly compassionate in the moment, rest assured that compassion can be cultivated.

In the past few years an entire body of research has demonstrated that neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, may occur at any age, not just in childhood as was once thought. The adage “cells that fire together wire together,” means that if we develop a compassion meditation practice, and we regularly and consistently stay connected with our own heart and extend kindness and compassion to self and others, then we will train ourselves to become more compassionate in all situations.

Benefits of cultivating a compassion meditation practice:

Compassion Meditation Increased Positive EmotionsIncreases Positive Emotions 

Compassion meditation increases positive emotions which in turn helps our well-being and life-satisfaction. Positive emotions help us broaden our perspective.  Positive emotions help us be more aware of the present moment, allow us to more easily give and receive emotional support, and can even help boost our immune system to more easily ward off the common cold. When we have a positive mindset we may more effectively meet life’s challenges and turn them into opportunities. Positive emotions, when cultivated through compassion meditation help contribute to our well-being.

Curbs Self-Criticism

Self- criticism is pervasive in our culture. However compassion meditation may significantly reduce self-criticism and the depressive symptoms that go along with it. Learning tools and techniques to quiet the mind, move us into a place of acceptance and compassion for self and others and may reduce anxiety, depression, and a sense of social isolation.

Increases Empathy

Compassion meditation helps us develop our ability to empathize with others. We begin to expand our awareness outside ourselves and recognize our connection to others. As we sit with and become comfortable with our own emotions, we have an ever increasing ability to sit with the distress of others and offer help if needed.

Decreases emotional suppression 

Most of us have learned, either through familial patterns or social norms that suppressing or denying emotions is preferable to expressing those emotions. However, emotional suppression has been associated with increased stress related symptoms, negative emotions, depression, and anxiety, as well as with decreased life satisfaction.  Through developing a compassion meditation practice, we begin to become more comfortable acknowledging and sitting with difficult emotions. Eventually we find the courage to lean into them, embrace them, and then move through them, letting them go.

Compassion Meditation Increases Social ConnectionIncreases Social Connection 

Increasingly, society is shifting toward social isolation. As we spend time commuting in our cars, working on our computers, being glued to our devices, we spend less time connecting with each other eye to eye over a meal or on a walk. When we do interact with others it is often with people we know and like, as opposed to those we don’t know well, or with whom we have difficulty. As we develop our compassion meditation practice, even if for a few minutes a day, we begin to increase our desire for social engagement and positive outlook toward strangers.

Increases ability to receive compassion

Often we find it is easier to extend compassion to others than receive compassion for ourselves. Often it is very difficult to receive compassion from others at times when we need it most. Our natural defenses come up when we feel vulnerable. However, as we continue to cultivate our compassion meditation practice our ability to accept help and kindness expands.

Strengthens our resilience

Many people, especially those in healthcare fields, freely offer compassion to others. However intense sharing of the others’ pain may be a primary cause for empathic distress and may lead to decreased helping behavior. A potential remedy for the excessive sharing of unpleasant feelings may be compassion meditation. Compassion meditation allows us to move beyond empathy to a place of action. Developing a compassion meditation practice is an effective strategy for deepening our personal resources and enhancing resilience in times of difficulty.

Increases acceptance of others

Everyone experiences bias toward others. It is part of our human condition. However we also have choice about how biased we are. Developing a compassion meditation practice helps us more actively choose acceptance over judgment. Here is an post on cultivating self-acceptance which in turn bolsters our acceptance of others.

Compassion Meditation increases well being and physical healthEnhances well-being and physical health

Cultivating compassion meditation creates an upward spiral of good health. Research suggests that positive emotions, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another. As we spend time connecting with our hearts and bodies, acknowledging and embracing our emotions, and extending loving kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, we increasingly have a positive impact on our health.

Increases Telomere Length

Telomeres protect our genetic data and affect how our cells age. They have been compared to the little plastic ends on shoe laces. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or it dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death. Another factor that affects telomere length is stress. As stress increases, telomere length decreases. Not only does compassion meditation reduce stress, this study offers the intriguing possibility that women who practice compassion meditation might be able to positively alter their telomere length.