Meditation Increases Our Sense of Connectedness

Compassion/Loving Kindness meditation, sometimes called Metta, is a compassion-based meditation that has been shown to enhance brain areas associated with mental processing and empathy. It also increases one’s sense of social connectedness. According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, mindfulness-based meditation interventions have become increasingly popular in contemporary psychology.

Other closely related meditation practices include loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM), exercises oriented toward enhancing unconditional, positive emotional states of kindness and compassion. LKM and CM enhance activation of brain areas that are involved in emotional processing and empathy. The study concluded that, when combined with treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, LKM and CM provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving.

There are two components of mindfulness: one that involves self-regulation of attention and one that involves an orientation toward the present moment characterized by curiosity openness, and acceptance. Mindfulness meditation employs the full range of perceptible experience as possible objects of mindful awareness, for example, bodily or other sensory experience, affective states, thoughts, or images. It also brings attention to breathing.

The aims of breath awareness are, among others, (1) to use an observable and constantly available physical stimulus (the breath) as the object of investigation of mind-body awareness; (2) to utilize continuous attention to the breath to improve the capability of moment-to-moment will-driven concentration; (3) and to employ a rather simple object of observation (which is intimately related to physical, mental, and emotional functioning) as a starting point for more complex objects of awareness.

These mindful practices – loving-kindness meditation (LKM) – aim to develop an affective state of unconditional kindness to all people. Compassion meditation (CM) involves techniques to cultivate compassion or deep, genuine sympathy for those stricken with misfortunate, together with an earnest wish to ease this suffering. Furthermore, these practices – and the path of yoga – begin with cultivating appreciation of our oneness with others through generosity, non-harming, right speech, and right action. Then, on the foundation of these qualities, we purify our minds through the concentration practices of meditation. As we do, we come to experience wisdom through recognizing the truth, and we become deeply aware of the suffering caused by separation and of the happiness of knowing our connection with all beings.

Source: US National Library of Medicine

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