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  • Writer's picturePenelope Davis

Mindfulness and Lovingkindness



WHY DOES YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTER?

Lovingkindness is the English translation of the Buddhist phrase Metta Bhavana. Historically, this term has been associated with things like charity and grace. Lovingkindness focuses on the connections we share with all living things and helps cultivate compassion towards oneself and others. Incorporating lovingkindness into day-to-day activities can help relieve chronic pain and increase empathy. Lovingkindness is connected to mindfulness in that it helps us focus and connect to other people in a more charitable way. It can help enhance the connection we have to our emotions. 



Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment. Often, we get caught up in the problems and stresses of everyday life. Studies have shown that chronic stress is damaging to our physical and mental health. Clinical trials have shown some of the benefits of mindfulness include decreased stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Some of the psychological benefits can include an increased sense of hope, better emotional regulation, increased empathy, and an overall boost in quality of life. 


Mindfulness isn’t just about formal meditation, but rather it’s a way of being in the world. However, meditation does play a part in mindfulness and can help relieve stress. Many people struggle with meditation, however there are thousands of techniques that you try and see what works best for you. A common misconception about meditation is that you must sit still for long periods of time. But studies have shown that even short periods of meditation can be beneficial. Some meditations are focused on silence while others focus on chanting, mantras, or sound. Some focus on sitting still while other meditation can be practiced through walking, dancing, or hiking.


The most important part of meditation is the mindfulness aspect, and this is something you can incorporate into everyday life. Taking time to savor your food can be a mindfulness practice. It can be as simple as taking the first five minutes to focus on the sensation of chewing, the flavor and texture of the food, and the scent. You can even incorporate gratitude into this by being thankful for the food you’re eating. Whatever allows you to calm your mind and be present is beneficial and can be used as a mindfulness practice. 


Sources: 

Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., Brantley, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health: Perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1123–1132. 


Seppala, E. M., Hutcherson, C. A., Nguyen, D. T., Doty, J. R., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Loving-kindness meditation: A tool to improve healthcare provider compassion, resilience, and patient care. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 1.

 

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