The dictionary definition of the word of empathy is - a noun relating to a person’s ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Those with empathy are typically more considerate than those without it and being able to mentally place yourself in another’s shoes goes a long way to helping you understand why people think and act the way they do.
There’s little doubt that empathy is a good quality for a person to have, but is it an ability that you simply have or you don’t? Well, there is evidence that rather than being something that’s just in the genes, empathy is an ability that can be developed through meditation and mindfulness techniques - that’s according to a report published in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
(Oxford Academic 2012)
The report states that practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly teaches people to read the facial expression on the faces of others. The feelings of others often get lost in the ‘noise’ of the day to day, however, when a person starts to learn how to focus and appreciate the here and now - as occurs through the ancient practice of meditation - the nuances of what a person says and does can be read and used to guide your own actions.
Of course, it’s not an exact science and people aren’t always that easy to read, however, being tuned in to the fact that others are having problems or experiencing other emotions will help you to be a more considerate and thoughtful person - something most people aspire to.
Why Empathy is So Important
If you’ve ever taken a closer look at the most successful people in the world, one common denominator is their ability to relate to others. Whether talking about business success or success in having strong relationships with friends or indeed in finding love, empathy is the bedrock on which interpersonal skills are built. That can be seen by the fact that a child with empathy is generally a more grown-up, reasonable child who can make grown-up decisions that take the feelings of others into account.
A Simple, Yet Effective Practice
Engaging in mindfulness and meditation training helps us to focus on the relationships we have with other people. When taught from an early age, it’s something that really helps to encourage mental development in children. By keeping them emotionally and mentally balanced, meditation provides youngsters with a better and more rational perspective on life.
Meditation is a practice that’s accessible to everyone and the relaxation and positive feelings that come both individual and group meditation soon become something you look forward to.
It’s a practice that teaches the ability to clear the mind, refresh the soul and really notice the world around us.
A Vital Life Skill for Children
If you’re a parent of a young child, there is perhaps no more important skill to teach them in life than empathy and it’s achievable through meditation and mindfulness. These techniques are accessible at a time and place of your choosing, so pretty much anyone anywhere can get involved.
The great thing is that empathy is not the only advantage that comes from practicing mindfulness and meditation, as there are many other complementing associated benefits like calmness, relaxation and clarity of mind.
Raising children is not easy, as any parent will tell you, but by introducing their young minds to meditation and mindfulness, you’ll likely find that they will go on to become a thoughtful, considerate and respectful adult - and that’s a head start in life that you can’t put a price on.
Why the World Needs an Empathy Revolution
Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity.