Often when we hear about compassion we instinctively think of a concept linked to religion or spirituality and this automatism can generate preconceptions and misunderstanding, but in reality compassion is a purely human attitude which, as we will see, can give quality and well-being to the our lifestyle. Contemplative neuroscience is increasingly motivated to study the now known link between mindfulness meditation or Mindfulness and the enhancement of certain specific areas of our brain.
The practices of mindfulness, if inserted into our daily life and carried out with continuity and commitment, are able to more easily and frequently activate those neuronal circuits involved in the process of attunement with ourselves and with others and in empathy. The more this neural connectivity is activated, the more our thinking style and behaviors are oriented towards a greater sense of connection and presence in the world. This capacity for transformation expressed by our brain is called neuroplasticity and indicates its ability to change and shape itself thanks to the repetition of certain experiences and stimuli. By virtue of this characteristic, the constancy and regularity of meditative practices plays a great role in consolidating what has been learned in a growth path based on Mindfulness.
Mindfulness debunks individualism
A person's worldview is of great importance in determining how one responds to traumatic experiences. The Dalai Lama often tells of how the Tibetan people are relatively immune to the typical symptoms of post-traumatic disorders because they have always cultivated an attitude to life based on non-judgment, of themselves and of others, and on compassion. One of my favourite books by the Dalai himself is the The Art of Happiness, a book that really digs into what happiness is and how to find grace within it. A handbook for any human in the world today.
Unfortunately our brain, so complex and evolved, is very predisposed, above all because of the values propagated by the dominant Western culture, to think in individualistic terms and this inclination induces in us closure, distrust and selfishness considerably limiting our possibilities to act and engage in experiences that require more contact and tuning with ourselves and with each other. What is promoted in mindfulness practices is in fact the recovery of that human dimension of connection, presence and attunement with our internal and external world which reduces our sense of isolation and disconnection from the surrounding reality and revitalizes that attitude of trust in us. themselves and in others through the refined ability to evaluate the elements of reality and make choices that are more consistent with a condition of well-being in a global sense.
The link between empathy and compassion in Mindfulness Empathy consists of an emotional participation in the experience of the other which implies a "feeling with" and a "feeling inside" what the other feels by perceiving their emotions and thoughts. Research into the functioning of our brains reveals the existence of three types of empathy. Cognitive empathy that allows us to adopt the other's point of view and understand how other people think; the emotional empathy that makes us feel what the other is feeling at that given moment; the empathic concern that underlies the compassionate attitude. The most relevant factors able to influence our happiness consists precisely in our attitude to be in connection with the surrounding world, feeling empathy, gratitude and choosing to be kind and generous with the others cultivating compassion throughout being more present and aware of our reality from a place of awareness and openness.