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6 Amazing Benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation Backed by Science

6 Amazing Benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation Backed by Science

Loving Kindness Meditation is about cultivating compassion and love through mentally repeating a series of phrases directed at someone you love, a neutral person, yourself, and then all living things.

Ever wonder if repeating these Loving Kindness phrases, such as “May you be well”, “May you be happy”, “May you live with ease and in peace”, is really a productive use of your time?

Turns out science now backs what Buddhists have long known about this powerful ancient practice. The incredible thing about Loving Kindness meditation is that a single short session of about 10 minutes, can kick-start a positive ripple effect, leading to increased feelings of social connection and positivity towards strangers.

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Loving Kindness Meditation also has continued benefits for those that practice more frequently. In fact, science suggests that the benefits can be surprisingly far reaching.

Here are six incredible benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation backed by science you should know about.

1. Increases Positive Emotions

If you’re looking to boost your happiness and well-being, loving kindness meditation could be just the practice for you. One study showed that practicing seven weeks of Loving Kindness Meditation increased multiple positive emotions including love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then had a ripple effect on the participants, increasing both life satisfaction and reducing depressive symptoms.

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2. Quiets Your Inner Critic

We all have an internal dialogue and near constant chatter that goes on inside our minds. For many of us, this voice inside our heads can be downright nasty. Research shows this critical voice can be tamed through practicing Loving Kindness Meditation. Beyond reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, Loving Kindness Practitioners also experienced improvements in self-compassion and positive emotions that were maintained 3 months post-intervention.

3. Strengthens your Capacity for Empathy

Because of recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity, we know that what we think, do, and pay attention to changes the structure and function of our brains. And guess what? Regularly practicing Loving Kindness Meditation has been shown to activate and strengthen areas of the brain responsible for empathy. One of the most important benefits of empathy is that it improves relationships. Increased empathy can also lead to more compassionate action.

4. Decreases Migraines

Time to toss out your Tylenol? While meditation isn’t usually thought to be a remedy for debilitating migraines, research shows it can help. A brief Loving Kindness Meditation intervention was shown to immediately help reduce pain and alleviate emotional tension associated with chronic migraines.

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5. Increases Compassion

According to the Dalai Lama, love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. The good news is: Loving Kindness Meditation may be one of the most effective practices for increasing compassion. Being more compassionate has a host of benefits, including improved health, well-being, and relationships.

6. The Foundation of Youth: Increases Telomere Length

In another eye-opening study (and my personal favorite), researchers found that women with experience in Loving Kindness Meditation had relatively longer telomere length (a biological marker of aging) when compared to age-matched controls. Bye bye botox, time to get on that meditation cushion and repeat the Loving Kindness phrases “May you be well, may you be happy, and may you live with ease and in peace.”

Conclusion

What are you waiting for? Start with a small, but daily, commitment to Loving Kindness meditation. If you commit to just five minutes each day, you are much more likely to stick with it, and you’ll start to see benefits soon enough.

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Don’t know where to start? There are plenty of free meditation challenges available online to help you get started and learn the techniques.

Featured photo credit: Alexa Miller via alexamiller.com

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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