Compassion Towards Others

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

 
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Disarming our Hearts:

Letting Go of Blame with Tara Brach

Anger, judgment and blame create separation—from our inner life and our world. Only by releasing chronic blame can we free our hearts to truly give and receive love. This talk looks at the difference between healthy anger and the trance of blame, and through a set of reflections, teachings and stories, guides us in healing and freeing our hearts.

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Guided Meditation

“Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us.
Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole.” 
― Jack Kornfield

 

18 Reasons to practice Loving-Kindness

by Emma Seppala

1. Increases Positive Emotions & Decreases Negative Emotions

In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues found that practicing seven weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.

2. Increases vagal tone, which increases positive emotions & feelings of social connection

study from 2013 found that individuals in a loving-kindness meditation intervention, compared to a control group, had increases in positive emotions, an effect moderated by baseline vagal tone—a physiological marker of well-being.

3. Decreases migraines

A recent study demonstrated the immediate effects of a brief loving-kindness meditation intervention in reducing migraine pain and alleviating emotional tension associated with chronic migraines.

4. Decreases chronic pain

A pilot study of patients with chronic low back pain randomized to loving-kindness meditation or standard care, loving-kindness meditation was associated with greater decreases in pain, anger, and psychological distress than the control group.

5. Decreases PTSD

study reports that a 12-week loving-kindness meditation course significantly reduced depression and PTSD symptoms among veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

6. Decreases schizophrenia-spectrum disorders

Also, a pilot study from 2011 examined the effects of loving-kindness meditation with individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Findings indicated that loving-kindness meditation was associated with decreased negative symptoms and increased positive emotions and psychological recovery.

7. Activates empathy & emotional processing in the brain

We showed this link in our research (Hutcherson, Seppala & Gross, 2014) and so have our colleagues (Hoffmann, Grossman & Hinton, 2011).

8. Increases gray matter volume

in areas of the brain related to emotion regulation: Leung et al (2013)Lutz et al (2008)Lee et al (2012).

9. Increases respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (RSA)

Just 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation had an immediate relaxing effect as evidenced by increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of parasympathetic cardiac control (i.e., your ability to enter a relaxing and restorative state), and slowed (i.e., more relaxed) respiration rate (Law, 2011 reference).

10. Increases telomere length—a biological marker of aging

We know that stress decreases telomere length (telomeres are tiny bits of your genetic materials—chromosomes—that are a biological marker of aging). However, Hoge et al (2013) found that women with experience in loving-kindness meditation had relatively longer telomere length compared to age-matched controls! Throw out the expensive anti-aging creams and get on your meditation cushion!

11. Makes you a more helpful person

Loving-kindness meditation appears to enhance positive interpersonal attitudes as well as emotions. For instance, Leiberg, Klimecki and Singer (2011) conducted a study that examined the effects of loving-kindness meditation on pro-social behavior, and found that compared to a memory control group, the loving-kindness meditation group showed increased helping behavior in a game context.

12. Increases compassion

A recent review of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) concludes that loving-kindness meditation may be the most effective practice for increasing compassion (Boellinghaus, Jones & Hutton, 2012)

13. Increases empathy

Similarly, Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm and Singer (2013) found that loving-kindness meditation training increased participants’ empathic responses to the distress of others, but also increased positive affective experiences, even in response to witnessing others in distress.

14. Decreases your bias towards others

recent study (Kang, Gray & Dovido, 2014) found that compared to a closely matched active control condition, six weeks of loving-kindness meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities.

15. Increases social connection

study by Kok et al (2013) found that those participants in loving-kindness meditation interventions who report experiencing more positive emotions also reported more gains in perception of social connection as well.

16. Curbs self-criticism

study by Shahar et al (2014) found that loving-kindness meditation was effective for self-critical individuals in reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, and improving self-compassion and positive emotions. These changes were maintained three months post-intervention.

17. Is effective even in small doses

Our study—Hutcherson, Seppala and Gross (2008)—found an effect of a small dose of loving-kindness meditation (practiced in a single short session lasting less than 10 minutes). Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward strangers.

18. Has long-term impact.

study by Cohn et al (2011) found that 35 percent of participants of a loving-kindness meditation intervention who continued to meditate and experience enhanced positive emotions 15 months after the intervention. Positive emotions correlated positively with the number of minutes spent meditating daily

 

"Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations but rather on the rights of the other; irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy; as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop a genuine concern for his or her problems. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

- His Holiness the Dali Lama

 
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Facets of Metta

by Sharon Salzberg

Love exists in itself, not relying on owning or being owned. Like the pearl, love can only buy itself, because love is not a matter of currency or exchange. No one has enough to buy it but everyone has enough to cultivate it. Metta reunites us with what it means to be alive and unbound.

Researchers once gave a plant to every resident of a nursing home. They told half of these elderly people that the plants were theirs to care for -- they had to pay close attention to their plants' needs for water and sunlight, and they had to respond carefully to those needs. The researchers told the other half of the residents that their plants were theirs to enjoy but that they did not have to take any responsibility for them; the nursing staff would care for the plants.

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Painting Review

* adding pattern... using stencils or brushes in the shape that you are trying to make. Remember to use square brushes to make square things and round brushes for round things.

* considering your background... what is the environment my being is in? does it want imagery added? would it benefit from being simplified?

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* adding shadows.... using any dark colour and a small or medium hog hair brush, tend the entire painting with  shadow. Consider what is in front of what, and add dark dry paint on the side of the line where the image goes back, which makes the image in front pop off of the shadow. In less obvious places, don't worry to much about what should be in front of what... there is no right way... you get to make the call. Also take a moment to consider deepening some of the darks in your painting to develop contrast even further.

* adding light sources.... considering if there is a light source in your painting or if it is generally front lit, add a paint colour that is even lighter then the lightest light you've used so far to bring parts of your image even further forward.

* you will know when you have achieved good contrast when you can squint your eyes at your painting and really see that there are distinct darks and lights. If it all looks like it blends together, consider getting even a little more brave with the lights and darks.