The Science of Kindness

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013

In my last post I discussed how kindness and love are essential ingredients for creating effective, lasting change in our life. Being hard on ourself may work at first, but after initial the excitement wears off, we find that a ‘no pain no gain’ mentality is not sustainable. Nor is it any fun!

 

In yoga, the word metta means “loving kindness.”

 

Although we may want to be kind and compassionate to ourself, it can be hard to fully trust that a kindness-based approach will actually work. Which is why today I want to share with you something that I call ‘the science of kindness.’

 

Before we talk about kindness though, we must first talk about the place from which most of us are operating our daily lives from – stress.

 

Stress has become so common that it often considered ‘the new normal’ of our hectic, busy 21st century lives.

How many people do you know whose lives aren’t hectic busy and stressed? Perhaps this is why stress is still the number one proxy killer in the United States.

 

The classic, textbook definition of stress is “any real or imagined threat and the body’s response to that threat.”

 

Real or imagined. Did you catch that?

 

This means it does not matter if you are being chased by a lion or you imagine you are being chased by a lion. It doesn’t matter if you actually lose your job or are constantly worrying about losing your job. Internally, the body’s physiologic response is the same.

 

The effects of stress have been well documented for decades. I have highlighted just a few below that are most relevant to overall health and nutrition.

 

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.41.24 AM

 

This is why over time, stress can lead to inflammatory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, hormonal dysreguation, mitochondrial dysfunction, weight gain, digestive disorders and more.

 

The science of kindness is the opposite of the stress-response. When we grant ourself the gift of kindness and self-love, we relax. When we relax, we create the ideal internal conditions for digestion, absorption and assimilation to happen best.

 

In other words, kindness is the first step in setting ourself up for success for achieving our health goals.

 

A lack of relaxation and metta (loving kindness) is the most common way I see individuals undermining their own efforts to get healthier.

 

“But if I’m too kind won’t I just eat ice cream and cookies all day?” you might be thinking. “I’ll just go hog wild and not care at all!”

 

This is where we get confused. Kindness is not about throwing in the towel and ceasing to care what we do. Kindness is about caring a lot!

 

It has nothing to do with whether or not we eat a cookie.

 

When we love something, whether it is a new car or a newborn baby or ourself, we inherently want the very best for it. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to care for what we love.

 

Moving into that place of self-love can feel a little challenging when we have spent years being not-so-kind to ourself.

 

In my work with individuals, I help people identify the ways they are working against themself, and identify simple straightforward strategies to get to where they want to go.

 

 

With wishes for a diet of pure kindness and a life full of love,

 

 

pamela

 

PS The second round of my Yoga & Peaceful Eating Course will being in late March and I also have openings for two new private clients. Please contact me if you are interested or would like more information. It would be my honor to serve you.

1 Comment

  1. This is a great article and i strongly agree with all your points. Thank you!

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