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Compassion is Linked to Physical Health

Faye Landey, CL Trainer
What Is Stress?  stress    A situation arises, and you immediately react: you want to get away, fight it out or just shut down. These inherent reactions saved your ancestors from real tangible danger, and here you are today with a strong sense of survival instinct that kicks in automatically. While this saved your predecessors, too much of this kind of hormonal stress can directly affect your wellbeing adversely.

Science has linked stress to one of the cranial nerves known as the vagus nerve, which wanders through the body, affecting  inflammation, blood pressure and other physical consequences, some of which can cause life threatening diseases.

So what does the vagus nerve have to do with us here? Research also shows a direct relationship between compassion and the vagus nerve.   Compassion you ask?   Yes, science has linked compassion to a healthy vagus nerve  and better physical health.  So along with your exercise and nutrition you can now add compassion to your daily regime.

This is quite exciting for us who offer a program calledCOMPASSIONATE LEADERSHIP!   Compassion is more than just a nice way to connect with others or with yourself; it may actually be a way to save your own life.


Here are some steps for you to consider when you find yourself reacting in a less than compassionate way.  (In addition to this brief synopsis, join us on Saturday to delve into more detail and exercises that relate to compassion.)

1.  Pause  Breathe. Stop long enough to witness the situation.   In NVC language, that means to make an observation of the facts without evaluation or good-or-bad assessment. What just happened?

2.  Become Aware  Notice what is going on in your body. The sensations may be blatantly obvious such as rage, shame, or terror, or the feeling may be quite subtle and go unnoticed. Pay close attention and become tuned in 

3.  Avoid Blame Like the Plague  Blame and fault finding are the antitheses for compassion. This applies to finding fault with yourself as well as blaming outside factors or people. Remember that blaming can lead to your own demise. (Remember the saying "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die"?  -   now we can say "Finding fault is like pointing a gun at your own head and pulling the trigger in order to feel better".

4.  Acknowledge and Distance  While it is important to acknowledge your pain or discomfort rather than deny or stifle, it is also important to know that you are NOT your feelings - notice that you are experiencing your feelings. And know that they are telling you something. (Death is your body's final way of telling you to slow down, so start listening now). 

You will have an opportunity to learn more about these steps on Saturday during the Taste call.

 5.  Befriend Yourself and Listen  This can be a difficult step if your thoughts and feelings are painful to tap into. So step way back away from yourself, and offer yourself consideration and acknowledgement that your pain is so great. Listen to this and acknowledge and distance from this as well.*

*The actual learning process for experiencing this step will be offered on Saturday November 17, 2012 as the topic for the Taste of Compassionate Leadership, and you are invited to join in person or listen to the recording a week or so after November 17 which will be found in the "Free Teleclasses" page:

6.   What is Going Well Right in this Moment?  There is always something to focus on that is going well in this moment. Your heart is beating and you are still breathing. Your blood is flowing. This is the time to get out of your head and to EXPERIENCE internal awareness for anything that feels hopeful, comforting, soothing. Notice something from any of your senses that is pleasing to your sight, your smell, your hearing. Maybe it is the temperature of the room that is comfortable. Maybe the chair you are sitting in feels nice to your tushie.  

Find SOMETHING genuinely pleasing in the moment no matter how mundane. The toilet flushes, the sun brought daylight, there is shelter from the weather. Anything. This will help to divert the continuing of the hardwiring of your brain patterns to a new pathway. Substitute a different thought - preferably a positive one.

If you want to experience this process, please join us on Saturday November 17 at 7:00 Eastern for the free teleclass.

Compassionately yours,

Faye Landey for the CL Team 

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