Compassion, acts of kindness have all been scientifically measured and results show the healing benefits of shifting our behaviour to one of compassion for ourselves and others. Do you have the courage to be compassionate?
According to Dr. James R. Doty, clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University, and the Director of the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, being compassionate or caring for others is actually our default mode. We are wired to care for others. The problem comes with our adrenalin powered lifestyles.
Our nervous system was never meant to be chronically triggered. In fact, one of the greatest causes of a variety of illnesses is the release of inflammatory proteins released in response to stress. And it also results in a decrease in the function or ability of your immune system to respond to threats. Dr. Doty says this is why in today’s world we have an epidemic of stress, anxiety, and depression. Our overstimulated nervous systems also make us more reactive and quick to jump to judgements about others.
Many of us are in a constant state of stress and anxiety, reducing our capacity for compassion. Yet when we do behave compassionately, it has a powerful healing effect on our bodies.
Studies at Emory University have demonstrated that a regular compassion meditation practice reduces negative neuroendocrine, inflammatory and behavioural responses to psychosocial stress. And Dr. Doty cites research by Stephanie Brown, a professor at SUNY Stony Brook University and the University of Michigan, who has shown that the act of experiencing compassion and helping others actually leads to tremendous mental and physical well-being for us as well. Being compassionate also inspires others to be compassionate, affecting their wellbeing and creating a positive feedback loop.
The author of Into The Magic: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart, Dr. Doty’s personal experience is the driving force behind his work around compassion and his vision of creating a more compassionate world.
"Each of us innately has an immense ability within ourselves to shine the light of compassion to others which will allow them to manifest their own compassion. If we can be compassionate to ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are, even with all of our faults and understand that we’re deserving of love, kindness, care, and compassion. Once we’re able to do that, then, we can give that gift to others and it can have a profound effect on the other person but just as much on yourself."