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Self Compassion (Loving-kindness) and Health

Research carried out by Western academic centres has confirmed the cultivation of the essential quality of compassion (including for self, self-compassion) as core to transforming with destructive emotions such as fear, anger, greed, cravings and vengeance.

Compassion (Dya) also encompasses loving kindness, metta. This desirelessness (niskam, without craving) loving does not seek to posses or attachment to the "other". Being or cultivating compassion begins with being open to the suffering of oneself and others in a non-defensive and non-judgemental way. Being open and sensitive to suffering gives rise to compassion. Compassion is not an action or behaviour, but a state of being which begins with cultivation of self- compassion, compassion for self.

It has been only over the past few decades that Western medicine has begun to explore the richness of Eastern traditions. Our worldviews (how one perceives reality to be) has been shown to greatly impact the cultivation of holistic and healthy qualities such as compassion or loving-kindness. While the Western paradigm has focused on individuality, logic, rationality enabling the reduction of self and "reality" into smaller and smaller units, Eastern paradigms such as Buddhism & Sikhi have a worldview of an energetic universe (Existence) consisting of interconnected flows of energy patterns and cycles as its essential nature.

Their worldview constructs Existence as an interconnected balancing set of energies that are not only observable but more importantly sensed as Presence as ones subjective experience, especially those engaging in practices that enable the emergence of this Presence (e.g. Chi Gung, Tai Chi, Kundalini Yoga). Within this worldview, harmony is valued more over conflict and competition.

The employment of such worldviews of exploring reality enables us to realise a very different reality in which compassion is the basic dominant framework for life's dramas in which all beings are interconnected and not in competition or in struggle. Western psychology has been focusing on negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, aggression rather than on the positive emotions such as gratitude, compassion, optimism, contentment. Cultivation and working on positive emotions has demonstrated the very results which psychologist have been seeking when treating individuals with destructive emotional patterns.

The synthesis of integrating eastern psychological practices with western psychologies such as cognitive therapy have proved to be highly effective at dealing with a whole range of mental health issues, including depression, anger, self-esteem, anxiety, stress and panic attacks.