Did you know, that there's a science behind that phenomenon called "loving-kindness meditation" (LKM)? Surprisingly, even research shows, that learning and practicing loving-kindness can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook, and even your health.
Surprisingly, you can rewire your brain to be more present and kinder to others. Just by giving your mood a daily boost. These three simple practices will help get you started.
1. Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM)
First of all, LKM is a quiet, contemplative practice. It focuses on your heart region and encourages warm, tender thoughts, possibly about a loved one. In one study, people who practiced LKM an hour a week felt greater positive emotions. Examples reach from love, contentment, to joy, while interacting with others.
Documented health benefits of practicing LKM include:
- Reduced pain and tension from migraines
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Conceivably slowing the aging process.
Studies have found that women who practice LKM have longer telomeres. Those are like little end-caps on your DNA. Shorter telomeres have been associated with faster aging. Learn more about it in the article about "Metabolic Age and Chronological Age May be Different".
Maybe the best news is that even small doses of LKM can help. One study found that a 10-minute session of LKM increased feelings of social connection and positive feelings toward others.
2. Act of Loving-kindness
This one's so simple: Firstly, intentionally set a goal to be kinder to others. Secondly, express sincerely felt kindness to a co-worker. Thirdly, make a special effort to extend kind words to a neighbor. Further, hold the elevator for someone. And finally, you may take time to help a loved one. As you spread your kindness, you will experience what research has confirmed: Generosity can be infectious!
Why is that? The act of helping others actually activates the part of your brain that makes you feel pleasure. It also releases a hormone called oxytocin. This helps modulate social interactions and emotions. So, by the end of the day, the higher your oxytocin levels, the more generous you feel.
Food for thought: It got reported, that one person in Winnipeg, Manitoba, picked up the tab for the next car in line at a coffee-and-sandwich drive-through. This inspired the next person to do the same. The chain continued for an astonishing 226 customers!
Seems like research supports the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As a result, the kinder you act toward others, the better you will feel.
3. Loving-Kindness Practice by Focussing on Gratitude
Do you feel grateful for the good things in your life? If not, it's time to start. A great way to make gratefulness a habit is to participate in the Morning Gratitude Challenge.
Researchers have found that feelings of thankfulness can help improve sleep, diminish fatigue, increase confidence, and even reduce depression. One way to increase your feelings of gratitude is to start journaling.
Keeping a gratitude journal, just writing down things you're grateful for. This has been found to actually improve biological markers that indicate heart health. Don't want to carry a notebook? There are plenty of phone apps that can help you express gratitude or share happy moments.
Like anything else, engaging in loving-kindness gets easier with practice. Try thinking positive thoughts about people in your life. Write down the things you're grateful for this week. Set aside 10 minutes to meditate. By doing so, you will create a happier, healthier you.
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Understand the messages of your body. And, how to act on them for your longevity.