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Study: 8 weeks of meditation can dramatically increase compassion

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 by: Mike Bundrant
Tags: meditation, compassion, empathy

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(NaturalNews) You may be just eight weeks away from being much more compassionate, 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."

Here is a summary of the findings:

•Two forms of meditation were used among meditating participants.

• Compassion was measured by observing the tendency to help someone in obvious physical pain when others in proximity were not willing to help.

• Only 15% of non-meditating participants were willing to extend themselves 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.

What would happen if you were more compassionate?

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. If you care about someone, why would you encourage them to mistreat you?

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!

Think about it. 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.

About the author:
Watch the free video The AHA! Process: An End to Self-Sabotage and discover the lost keys to personal transformation and emotional well-being that have been suppressed by mainstream mental health for decades.

The information in this video has been called the missing link in mental health and personal development. In a world full of shallow, quick-fix techniques, second rate psychology and pharmaceutical takeovers, real solutions have become nearly impossible to find. Click here to watch the presentation that will turn your world upside down.

Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center and host of Mental Health Exposed, a Natural News Radio program.

Follow Mike on Facebook for daily personal development tips.

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