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Meditation has been used for centuries as a way of relaxing the body and mind, and relieving stress. It’s often associated with yoga, due to the peaceful effects on the body and the importance placed on unifying the mind with the physical relaxation of stretches and yoga poses. Recently, it’s been discovered that meditating every day can actually do wonders for other aspects of your mind, such as helping you to become more compassionate. Meditating can help with anxiety, pain and depression, as well as physical ailments, too. Studies have found that meditation can help to improve your emotional wellbeing, as well as your cognitive health, attention and cognitive control.
The study involved 39 participants who were analysed for an eight week period, during which they were randomly assigned meditation classes. Some of those groups were taught mindfulness meditation, whilst others were taught compassion meditation. Although meditation is used as an umbrella term, there are various techniques one can learn. After the study was complete, the participants were asked to complete a compassion test, which was a role play scenario in which the participant was unaware of. Researchers looked at how likely it was for the test subject to help the third person playing the ‘sufferer’, depending on whether they underwent taught meditation. They found that meditators were five times as likely to give up their seat for those they believed to be in need, compared to just 15 percent of those who didn’t engage in meditation.
Due to meditative techniques helping you to clear your mind, it makes sense that compassion will follow – when you are relaxed and stress-free, you’re more able to empathise with people and help others in need. Meditation can help you lead a calmer and more peaceful life, as well as aiding other elements of your lifestyle, such as helping to deal with anxiety, stress and physical complaints.