For many, though, the hard part is receiving kindness or compassion. How many times do you flinch or winch when someone says something good to you? Or maybe they offer to do a simple good thing. Do you receive gratefully or push it away?
Years ago I was at a conference where Charles Raison, a psychiatrist at Emory University, presented the findings from a compassion study. They found that there are real benefits in reducing stress and improving immune responses.
These are the findings from the (Compassion and Attention Longitudinal Meditation Study (CALM) an Emory University study looking at how Tibetan Buddhist practices of mind-training reduce stress and improve immune responses to stress.
This particular meditation practice is about changing the perceptual lens of our relationships with people through a series of visualizations and mental challenges to explore why we feel the way we do about ourselves and others.
By examining compassion towards people we care about, then toward neutral people, and those that we consider “enemies” guides us to patience and care.
In two research groups, Charles Raison and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, both from Emory, found that the more someone practiced, the more stress was reduced. The more practice (3-4 times a week outside of the study supported greater benefits.
By wearing electronically activated recorders before and at the end of meditation the study evaluated the effect on participants’ social behavior.
Here’s a free, simple compassion practice from Oprah’s O Magazine