Take a moment and check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Happy, sad, irritated? Next, become aware of how your state of being is affecting your view of the world. Are you looking at it through a lens of hopefulness, despair, or frustration? Finally, consider how your feelings affect your mood and how you show up.
If you do this on a daily basis, you are probably aware that you state of being can influence your general health. You are also probably aware that by practicing meditation you can change your state of being, and in that, your outlook on life.
David R. Himilton, in his latest Huffington Post, considers the effect of kindness on a person and presents 5 motivations for why it would be in any individual’s best interest to do what they can to cultivate this most beneficial state of being. One motivation on the list? Generating kindness through practices like a kindness meditation can help you live longer.
Kindness slows aging.
Aging on a biochemical level is a combination of many things, but two culprits that speed the process are free radicals and inflammation, both of which result from making unhealthy lifestyle choices.
But remarkable research now shows that oxytocin (which we produce through emotional warmth) reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and thus slows aging at its source. Incidentally these two culprits also play a major role in heart disease, so this is also another reason why kindness is good for the heart.
There have also been suggestions in the scientific journals of the strong link between compassion and the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve, in addition to regulating heart rate, also controls inflammation levels in the body in what is known as the inflammatory reflex. One study that used the Tibetan Buddhist lovingkindness meditation found that kindness and compassion did, in fact, reduce inflammation in the body, mostly likely due to its effects on the vagus nerve.
Read more about the benefits of practicing a kindness meditation here.