Kindness & Compassion – By Pierre Zimmerman 8/1/21
KINDNESS & COMPASSION FOR THE SELF AND OTHERS – By Pierre Zimmerman
Our capacity for empathy, lovingkindness, compassion and altruistic behavior is inborn, rather than acquired through socialization or cultural exposure. Compassion is what makes an empathic response manifest in kindness. However, it takes awareness and practice to change reactive habits and develop it into an active force in our lives.
Compassion brings purpose to our lives and a sense of feeling useful. It reduces stress and releases oxytocin, which is associated with reduced levels of inflammation in our cardiovascular system, interestingly enough, related to matters of the heart! It also strengthens the tone of the longest cranial vagus nerve, which is the marker of our overall state of health.
Cultivating lovingkindness for one self and self-compassion is not self-absorption, self-pity, self- esteem or self-gratification. It is self-caring by being mindful, which is the ability to hold all kinds of experiences in awareness within the context of a shared human experience rather than judging them. Self-compassion is needed in order to effectively be present for others suffering and assist them in bringing relief.
Compassion contributes to better relationships and strengthens the connections with loved ones and getting rid of loneliness, one of the most painful forms of suffering in our culture. This in turn strengthens our immune system. We can promote kindness in a defended world that sponsors and prides itself through autonomy, selfies, superficial interactions and greed, in pursuit of power, and laughs at compassionate action. Not only can we repay people who are kind to us, we need to spread random acts of kindness to others as an organizing principle in our society.