Celebrate World Kindness Day! Researchers have discovered that by meditating we can activate areas of our brain that increase our empathy.
November 13 is World Kindness Day. In 1997 a Japanese group called the Small Kindness Movement organized a conference in Tokyo that brought together members of kindness organizations from around the world.
The result was the World Kindness Movement. Their goal is simple: to create a kinder world.
And performing acts of kindness is a win-win proposition for the person performing the act and the person on the receiving end. Studies have shown that kindness increases our feelings of health and well-being.
Meditate to learn compassion
Researchers have also discovered that we can train ourselves to be compassionate. By meditating we can activate regions of the brain that make us more empathic toward other people’s emotional states.
A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been conducting research on a group of Tibetan monks and lay practitioners who have meditated for over 10,000 hours each. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the scans showed significant activity in the insula. This is a region in the front of the brain that is instrumental in bodily representations of emotion.
The insula detects emotions and maps our physical responses to emotion (for example, our heart rate and blood pressure) and shares that information with other parts of the brain.
Activity also increased in the temporal parietal juncture, especially in the right hemisphere, another important area of the brain that processes empathy and allows us to assess the mental and emotional states of other people.
These findings (and several other studies) support the idea that people can train themselves, through meditation, to be more compassionate—and ultimately, happier.
Celebrate World Kindness Day by doing something kind for someone else and practising a little compassion meditation.