Meditation Makes You More Empathetic

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’ve often said that I think the Christian religion could benefit from a shift away from emphasizing a set of beliefs to an emphasis on daily practice. Take, for example, the practice of meditation.

“The [newly released] study, published last month in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, suggests that meditating for just 30 minutes a day for eight weeks can increase the density of gray matter in brain regions associated with memory, stress, and empathy. …These brain changes may suggest that meditation improves people’s ability to regulate their emotions, control their stress levels, and feel empathy for others, says Britta Hölzel, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Geissen in Germany.”

It would be interesting to see if there are any similar alterations in the brain arising from anything in typical Christian worship services in the U.S.  Given that in recent history, frequent church-goers in the U.S. were found to be more prone to support torture, I doubt it. That points to a severe deficiency in Christian spiritual life in the area of empathy development that church leaders should be working urgently to address. But, until that happens, we individual Christians should be adopting practices like daily mediation on our own.

 

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Comments
  1. james says:

    thank you for this. Great points. It would seem that something quite opposed to (dare I say 180 degrees opposed to) the teachings of Jesus is being taught in Christian churches and perhaps schools as well.

  2. mato48 says:

    As an atheist I can unfortunately not contribute to your efforts but I want to tell that meditation is also a key part of my life. I view it though not from a metaphysical point of view but as a practice/training that can be sufficiently explained by recent scientific findings in neurology.

    http://mato48.wordpress.com/ If you ever have time to visit my blog you will be astonished to find various similarities despite the fundamental different beliefs. We even share some of the links! (Gene Sharp, AntiWar.com).

  3. janinsanfran says:

    Perhaps the development of empathy is another arena in which most of us need to look less to leaders and more to nurturing the character we would wish to embody within ourselves. That’s not a recipe for beating ourselves up, but rather an affirmation that Somebody bigger than ourselves incomprehensibly called this place and its creatures good.

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