Enhancing Compassion

Sometimes our lives take control of us and our compassionate nature goes into dormancy.  At least, that’s how I feel sometimes.  And, there’s a little bit of guilt attached to that.  As an example, at the supermarket check-out line, I found myself annoyed by a woman in front of me who was trying to swipe her credit card, but made several unfruitful attempts, each time having the patient cashier explain.  My immediate reaction was to roll my eyes and moan a bit so I could be heard by the poor lady.  And might I add, I had thoughts that were rather disharmonic.  Come on, I told myself.  Breathe.  It’s only 5 extra minutes out of your life and perhaps this woman is learning disabled or worse!

I’m talking about compassion here.  I read, in a most interesting book called How God Changes Your Brain”, by Andrew Newberg, MD, that “the more you activate your anterior cingulate, the more compassionate you will become!”  It’s easy to do, too.  “Simply focus on compassion or an image of peace, as you breathe deeply and relax. Hold the thought for at least 12 minutes a day, and in a matter of a few months, you’ll begin to build and strengthen new neural circuits of compassion.  These circuits will interrupt the neurological tendency to shy away from people who appear to be different than you.”  It might even help when you’re ready to explode on a supermarket line!  Fear, anxiety, and irritability will decrease, and a sense of harmony will take its place.


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