By Greg Fisher
Meditation is often considered a lifestyle and not just a practice, as it makes us more knowledgeable about the art of living. Many have found it to be a life transforming experience because it can make one discover the potential for good we have. It is a practice that gives us the opportunity to know joy, have peace of mind, become more inclined to share our join with others, and as a result, become more altruistic.
One ultimate quality that a lot of us seek in our fellow human beings compassion. If you have been thinking of ways to increase your inherent compassion, this may just be it. Meditation is known to have existed across many cultures, societies & eras; and it leads to various benefits including a more positive outlook on life, a reduction in stress and a general increase in the well-being of an individual.
Recent research carried out have found that mediation can be of great benefit to others as it promotes altruistic behavior. Researchers in Boston found out that both compassion meditation and mindfulness meditation, over the period of eight weeks, can significantly increase the chances of someone giving up their seat his or her seat to alleviate the pain of others.
Compassion meditation involves picturing the suffering of other individuals and those trained in such aspects are more likely to be more altruistic in nature.
In the New York Times article “Morality of Meditation” by David DeSteno, a psychology professor at the Northeastern University, enlightens us more on the study’s finding. DeSteno and colleagues enlisted 39 participants from the Boston area to take part in an eight-week meditation course. Out of the 39 enlisted, 20 participants (the mediators) were to attend meditation classes on a weekly basis while the rest 19 participants (the non-meditators) were asked to wait for the meditation study. After the completion of the eight weeks, both the mediators and the non-mediators were asked to participate in an experiment in the lab which they thought was about attention, cognitive functioning and memory but the main experiment was carried out in the waiting room.
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When the participant got into the waiting room, he or she noticed that just one chair was available out of three. The remaining two chairs had been occupied by researchers who acted as participants. Someone on crutches, who was the third researcher, then enters the room but also pretended to be a participant. The aim of the experiment was to check if the true participant would actually offer his or her seat altruistically to the participant on crutches.
The result shows that 16 percent of the non-mediators offered their seats while 50 percent of the mediators did the same. The over three-times increase in the altruistic behavior of the mediators was quite impressive as the research team that were seated were instructed to pay no attention to the individual on crutches.
From the result of the research carried out, it was discovered that compassion meditation and mindfulness meditation can increase the likelihood of someone’s willingness & desire to help others in need or pain.
As our community continues to grow in numbers, our fellow man may seem more alien than ever. By changing evolving our attitude & way of thinking, meditation may be a partial cure to our society’s seemingly diminishing capacity for compassion and altruism, and bring us closer together as a community.
Compassion Meditation: How To: http://www.wikihow.com/Practice-Compassion-Meditation
Guided Compassion Meditation: http://www.meditationoasis.com/2012/01/22/guided-meditation-for-compassion/
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