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Mindful : February 2017
Empathetically engaging with cli- ents is core to effective counseling, yet too much emotional empathy—feel- ing others’ suffering—can result in burnout. Train- ing in loving-kindness meditation might help, say researchers Monica Leppma and Mark Young. They assigned 103 grad students in a counsel- ing program to receive either interpersonal skills training or instruction in wellness education and loving-kindness medita- tion, which directs com- passion first toward oneself and then toward others. Putting Kindness Front and Center In our digital age it’s easy to assume we’re con- nected to others when in fact we’re actually quite isolated. Kindness.org aims to change this by leveraging the power of social media to make simple acts of kindness “front and center in our lives.” It does this through initiatives that include asking an elder per- son for advice, taking a walk with a friend, or gifting a plant, among other things. To participate, join or start an initiative at kindness. org, take action, and then post about your experience in words, pictures or video, sharing it far and wide on your social network. The organization has also partnered with Oxford University to study the impact of perform- ing acts of kindness, on ourselves and on others. The belief, according to kindness.org, is that “col- lectively, our ripples of kindness will create mas- sive waves of change.” Mindful, Married, and Happy University of North Carolina researchers explored whether particular aspects of mindfulness relate to marital bliss. Their survey of 164 long-married cou- ples found that the happiest spouses tended to be mar- ried to individuals who reported less reactivity to inner experience. Perhaps calmly observing your reactions during a conflict without yelling or withdrawing fosters more constructive discussions with your partner. When Counselors Meditate The meditation interven- tion increased students’ emotional empathy but seemed to have an even stronger effect in boosting cog nitive empathy—the ability to sense others’ distress while still keeping some emotional detach- ment. (The interpersonal skills group showed no changes in empathy.) Most meditators also reported improved mood. If such findings are confirmed in further studies, meditation could prove a useful strat- egy for developing both types of empathy skills in a balanced way that lowers counselor burnout risk. WHY WE PUT OFF THE INEVITABLE In a study of 214 under- grads, Carleton University investi- gators found that procrastination and automatic procrastination- related thoughts were associ- ated with certain cognitive fac- tors: ruminative brooding over negative feel- ings or thinking, and low levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. These factors were also linked to depression. PROTECTING THOSE WHO SERVE Nine out of 10 officers will suf- fer from some traumatic event in their first years of duty. Now, the Wisconsin Center for Healthy Minds has teamed up with the Madison Police Department for an eight-week pilot study to see how mindfulness practices might help officers cope better. The pro- gram will focus on breath and body scan exercises, gentle yoga, and meditation. “With meditation I found a ledge above the waterfall of my thoughts.” Mary Pipher 12 mindful February 2017 what’s new PHOTOGRAPHSBYSXC,SASHAKARGALTSEV,ILLUSTRATIONCOURTESYKINDNESS.ORG