Neuroscience, kindness and compassion – doing something good for your own brain

Seeing someone else in pain or suffering can be very difficult. For many, we experience a sympathetic sense of the pain and suffering within ourselves and it can almost seem healthier to harden the heart and avoid taking it in. The trouble is, that can lead to guilt or feeling dissociated or disconnected and that is not very satisfying either.

After compassion training the neural activation was quite different, including the medial orbitofrontal cortex, putamen, palladium, and ventral tegmental area.

The compassion training involved spending one day with a teacher of kindness meditation. The intention was to create a general sense of prosocial feelings, rather than to prepare them for anything specific. Participants continued the meditative practice during three laboratory tested sessions of 45 minutes and privately at home for an average of 5-6 hours.


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