Is the road to happiness lined with good intentions? A University of Zurich study cited in Science Daily, seems to indicate so. The study reports that we are neurologically hard-wired to be compassionate, loving, and kind: generous of heart. And,…
Importantly, the study revealed that just the intention to be generous is as powerful as the act itself. Another finding is that not only do acts of generosity toward our selves (selfishness) not light up the same neurological centers for happiness that generosity does, but selfishness has the deleterious effect of lighting up the brain in areas related to unhappiness!
That there are centers of the brain that are stimulated for happiness when we create generous intentions underlies the part of mindfulness practice that centers on compassion and loving-kindness toward self and others.
As a finish to many of our mindfulness training sessions at DayQuest Life classes we offer gratitude to ourselves for creating the opportunity for self-care and wellbeing, and we also extend that gratitude to those who support our efforts in wellbeing.
In mindfulness practice we are opening in acceptance: generosity of mind and heart to all that arises in the present moment. We do so with gentleness, kindness and compassion for the many difficulties that may arise.
These may be minor and constant like the self-judgement that often about toward how we are “doing” our practice; or other more highly affecting momentary events in mindfulness where emotional memories unpack feelings that have been under the surface for a long time. How to open up and accept these difficulties with equanimity lies at the heart of mindfulness practice.
Of course, there are also Loving-Kindness practices that are specifically designed to offer our heart-wishes inward and then outward in ever-expanding circles. When we create the intention that “All may be Well, Happy and Content”, it is easy to see the generosity there.
On a larger scale, when we dedicate our practice to bringing a generosity of heart to ourselves – self-compassion – we can do so with the intention that by doing so we will generate a greater capacity of heart for ourselves, and, also be able to extend that to others, because we can personally relate to their suffering. Further, we then bring that expanded heart-space to the world at large.
That energy is powerful, and, as the University of Zurich study points out, we are neurologically hard-wired to be compassionate, loving, and kind: generous of heart.
Importantly, the study revealed that the intention to be generous is as powerful as the act itself.
It could be said then, that our mindfulness practices are exercising our natural endowment – and they make us feel good, naturally. We could also say that un-kindness goes against the grain of our true nature, as indicated by the un-happiness that results when people in the study were selfish.
All that is to say that as we continue to practice our capacity for generosity follows from our ability to be self-compassionate – generous toward ourselves when it is linked to the intention to be generous (compassionate) toward others.
Our practices should include directing that generosity of heart outward toward others, as we do by offering that those who support us feel our appreciation or by wishing all beings be well, happy and peaceful.
Each time we create intention of generosity toward ourselves and others we light up areas of the brain (and heart) that help us to feel happy.
Isn’t this another great way to enjoy the pleasure of sitting in mindfulness?- It helps us to be happy!
Dedicate your practice to the benefit of all. Feel the pleasure of your practice; it will help motivate you to Keep Practicing!
Learn more about practicing mindfulness. Checkout the next DayQuest Life Mindfulness Training Class or Course HERE