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Mindfulness and Compassion

Every one of us responds to kindness, even animals. A dog can be taught to behave using a stick to beat it, but it will become neurotic and stressed when told to do something. Yet the same discipline can be achieved through kindness and compassion and the dog will be calm and happy. Everyone likes to be around calm individuals and the sense of warmth we experience when someone just holds our hand or talks to us in a loving way is remarkable. The physiological effects are also measurable, our blood pressure decreases, our face relaxes and the tension dissolves throughout our body.

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A kind word rather than a harsh reprimand achieves so much more. There is already so much hatred in the world, we do not need to participate in it or contribute to it. A kind and compassionate nature naturally makes the mind more calm and at ease. The development of kindness is crucial to our own happiness. This is a form of selfish action in one way. Not only does this type of mind help others, but it helps us even more.

We all put ourselves first because we think that we are the most important people in our lives. This is a selfish viewpoint and encourages pride and an inflated ego. This strong attachment we all have to ourselves is misguided and does not help us to become relaxed. Putting ourselves first above the needs of others actually enhances our selfishness. Yet reversing this viewpoint and putting others needs before our own has immense benefits. Our sense of how important we are diminishes and a compassionate mindful nature develops. This creates contentment, less craving for external causes of our happiness and a clear emotionally intelligent mindset.

When compassion is actually developed through the practice of mindfulness, it becomes a powerful foundation for our mental well-being, as well as our meditation practice. Compassion, however, must also be developed with wisdom, otherwise it becomes less effective. Wisdom is developed through mindfulness because we become more attentive to the present. This allows us space to make well-motivated actions as opposed to our usual mindless re-actions. On the other hand, actions taken with mindfulness and compassion will have a more predictable outcome, which in turn motivates us to further mindfulness and meditation practice.

© Michael Smith 2014

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