The web address for this site, SelfCare4Me, reflects my passion for self-care coaching and the joy I feel when extending kindness into the world around me. I was raised by a mother with strong empathic values so I have good grounding in this art as a personal discipline. I also have over 20 years of meditation experience blessing me with multiple experiences of expanded awareness in which I felt I was ‘one’ with everything. Modern science refers to this as ‘loving-kindness meditation’. These experiences have strongly shaped my sense of connection with the world around me, to the extent that helping others feels like helping myself, and harming others would feel like harming myself.
It brings me great joy when I think about the positive changes that have taken place in society, when it comes to the way women and children are treated, with kindness and rights finally being extended to them. I feel the same way about the liberation and gradual re-empowerment of racial groups who were previously at the mercy of more powerful conquering nations. Our next great hurdle to overcome will be speciesism, where we abuse the position of power we have over the live of other animal species, simply because we have a human-centric sense of entitlement.
Kindness seems to be a hallmark of human evolution; a sign of social maturation. As we evolve socially, we come closer together as an ecological whole, harmonising with one another rather than destroying each other and ourselves in the process. Evolution requires cooperation between different genders, races and social groups and the ability to work with nature rather than blindly destroying our planet’s ecosystems. When it comes to good “self-care”, our sense-of-self as a collective needs to extend beyond humanity to embrace Nature as a whole.
Modern science is discovering the psychological and physiological benefits of altruism, generosity and positive psychology on both individual and social levels. We don’t lose anything by being kind: we gain. Here are some great articles exploring the benefits of compassion and kindness:
Some quotes from an Article from the Association for Psychological Science:
“It is not surprising that compassion is a natural tendency since it is essential for human survival. As has been brought to light by Keltner, the term “survival of the fittest,” often attributed to Charles Darwin, was actually coined by Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinists who wished to justify class and race superiority. A lesser known fact is that Darwin’s work is best described with the phrase “survival of the kindest.”
“Though economists have long argued the contrary, a growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both animals and human beings have what APS Fellow Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley, coins a “compassionate instinct.” In other words, compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival.”
“Finally, one additional way in which compassion may boost our well-being is by increasing a sense of connection to others. One telling study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, strong social connection leads to a 50 percent increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system (research by Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life.”
Some quotes from an article about the benefits of loving-kindness meditation, from a scientific perspective:
“Decreases Your Bias towards others:
A recent study (Kang, Gray & Dovido, 2014) found that compared to a closely matched active control condition, 6 weeks of Loving Kindness Meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities.”
“Decreases Chronic Pain
A pilot study of patients with chronic low back pain randomized to Loving Kindness Meditation or standard care, Loving Kindness Meditation was associated with greater decreases in pain, anger, and psychological distress than the control group ( Carson et al., 2005).”
“Decreases Telomere length – a biological marker of aging
We know that stress decreases telomere length (telomeres are tiny bits of your genetic materials – chromosomes – that are a biological marker of aging). However, Hoge et al (2013) found that women with experience in Loving Kindness Meditation had relatively longer telomere length compared to age-matched controls!”