If you are a spiritual seeker (and I think it’s probably safe to assume you are!) you’ve at least heard of Buddhism and understand a bit about its core structure and philosophical system.
The most well known core belief is that attachment/desire = suffering. So in order to be happy you must let go of attachments and just be. There are several practices in the Buddhist tradition that are designed to help you do that, as well as cultivating a calm, clear, and happy inner world or mind. Meditation is by far the most utilized type of exercise to foster many of the mind sets that Buddhism idealizes.
One of my favorite exercises is the Loving Kindness meditation. You can read about what that is in this week’s meditation exercise. (Just make sure you come back and read the rest of this article when you’re done!)
In 2008 a few scientists (Hutcherson, Cendri A.; Seppala, Emma M.; Gross, James J.) put the Loving Kindness meditation to the test and the results they got back were really positive!
They wanted to answer a few key questions about how a loving kindness meditation could positively impact people living in a society that seems to be isolating individuals more and more.
“The need for social connection is a fundamental human motive, and it is increasingly clear that feeling socially connected confers mental and physical health benefits. However, in many cultures, societal changes are leading to growing social distrust and alienation. Can feelings of social connection and positivity toward others be increased? Is it possible to self-generate these feelings?”
It turns out that just a short loving kindness meditation can indeed foster feelings of being closer to others and increase positive social emotions!
“In this study, the authors used a brief loving-kindness meditation exercise to examine whether social connection could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals on both explicit and implicit levels. These results suggest that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.”
Today more than ever we need this type of practice in our everyday life in order to not feel isolated. With our interactions becoming more digital and less actual we need a way to feel closeness and doing the loving kindness meditation now has a proven correlation to exactly the kind of closeness all humans crave.
In another study done in 2010 Kerry Leigh Ambrose, SIT Graduate Institute, completed a study about how Buddhism can benefit people, and the business, at work. Her paper basically asked the question, can an altruistic (Buddhist) inspired purpose change the way people interact and how they do their jobs. And the answer according the outcome of the study was a huge YES, and showed very positive reactions to the people who were involved.
“The results indicate applying the Buddhist aim increases authenticity, connection, purpose, and ethical behavior. As such this study is beneficial for western workplaces seeking to end exploitative behaviors amongst workers and increase productivity by limiting interpersonal conflict.”
Having a Buddhist mission statement and purpose in the workplace apparently inspires workers to be everything an employer could possibly want! What more reason does anyone need to adopt this philosophy? The company will do good things for the world (even if it’s as simple as selling good shoes) and the workers will be fully on board giving it their all. I think that’s amazing.
I read one other scientific article when I did my research for this week’s S&S. This paper has to do with adopting Buddhist philosophy in clinical psychology as a way to cultivate the kinds of mental health western psychology has been after all along. (I sense this was a huge palm-to-forehead moment for everyone.)
“Clinical psychology has focused primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disease, and only recently has scientific attention turned to understanding and cultivating positive mental health. The Buddhist tradition, on the other hand, has focused for over 2,500 years on cultivating exceptional states of mental well-being as well as identifying and treating psychological problems. This article attempts to draw on centuries of Buddhist experiential and theoretical inquiry as well as current Western experimental research to highlight specific themes that are particularly relevant to exploring the nature of mental health. Specifically, the authors discuss the nature of mental well-being and then present an innovative model of how to attain such well-being through the cultivation of four types of mental balance: conative, attentional, cognitive, and affective.”
It appears that naming illnesses and providing medical treatment plans was outmoded before it even got started, by 2500 years to be exact! I couldn’t be more happy that western psychology is finally turning toward methods that actually help people instead of prescribing drugs or getting someone to talk it out. (Talking your feelings out helps immensely but there is a lull in that benefit when you go home and are not with your psychologist. Buddhism will give you actual tools that you can use all the time to create a calm and happy inner world free from anxiety and other negative emotions.)
While I really try to not subscribe to any one “religion” and as a rule I don’t love any kind of organized religion, if I had to choose I would definitely pick Buddhism. I go to a group meditation and education class once per week and I find that it helps with anything that could possibly be going on in my life. It has given me so many tools and calmed my inner world into a state of happy bliss (most of the time). 🙂
If you are looking for something real that will actually help you in that same way I would highly recommend looking into Buddhism. In fact, I spent a lot of time this week researching online Buddhism programs and I found a really great one.
This program is very thorough, and you get so much information. You can start using it immediately and it will help you as soon as you start applying some of the things you will learn in the first lesson.
It was put together by a really reputable guy named Robert Sachs. Not only is Robert Sachs a licensed Clinical Social Worker, a certified LifeLine Practitioner and an author, with Masters in Social Work at the University of Kentucky, Robert has long been a student of Tibetan Buddhist masters is now an expert on a study of Asian healing systems.
Robert is also a guest instructor for the Chopra Center for Well Being in San Diego.
And here’s a quote directly from Deepak Chopra about some of Robert’s work: “Tibetan Ayurveda is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to live a life based on the wisdom of Ayurveda. I recommend it highly.”
As with everything I send to you guys it is covered by a 60 day money back guarantee, and it is on sale. 🙂
To read more about this amazing program and see if it’s right for you CLICK HERE or visit the link below:
Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness.
Hutcherson, Cendri A.; Seppala, Emma M.; Gross, James J.
Emotion, Vol 8(5), Oct 2008, 720-724. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0013237
Ambrose, Kerry Leigh, “Empowering a Shift in Self-Awareness: An Inquiry into How Buddhism Benefits Westerners at Work” (2010). Capstone Collection. Paper 1395.
Mental Balance and Well-Being
B. Alan Wallace, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies
Shauna L. Shapiro, Santa Clara University
October 2006 ● American Psychologist
Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association 0003-066X/06/$12.00
Vol. 61, No. 7, 690 –701 DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.7.690