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Mindful : October 2017
PARTING THOUGHT A basic loving-kindness meditation by Sharon Salzberg Sit comfor tably, eyes open or closed. Choose a phrase, something like: “May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I live with ease.” Begin to repeat the phrase silently over and over again, while breathing naturally. Offer this sentiment first to yourself, then to your close friends and family, and finally to others whom you don’t know. You might even offer it to the entire world. There’s a common miscon- ception that you have to be a jerk in order to succeed. In fact, science shows that compassionate people are healthier, happier, more popular, and yep, more successful. Stanford University research scientist Emma Seppälä says that practicing loving-kindness medita- tion in particular has been found to provide numerous life-enhancing benefits. Among them: increased positive feelings, such as joy, awe, hope, gratitude, interest, and amusement. These give us greater access to personal resources, such as social connection and feeling purposeful, which results in g reater overall Loving-kindness builds it life satisfaction. One study found that it even increases telomere length, the reverse of the normal aging process. All of this comes along- side decreases in negative emotions, including depres- sive symptoms, and lessened physical discomfort, such as chronic pain and migraines. It also strengthens and activates the areas of the brain responsible for empa- thy and emotional intel- ligence. In fact, “loving- kindness meditation may be the most effective practice for increasing compassion,” Seppälä writes. Bottom line: Loving- kindness and compassion make us happier, healthier, and kinder—and much more likely to succeed. ● We don’t need to wait for compassion to spontaneously arise. When we have the intention to experience and offer it, we can make choices that can lead to the authentic experience of compassion. October 2017 mindful 33