Well, it's beyond December 21, 2012 and we're still here: phew! Admit it - you knew we'd be safe all along (I know I did). As silly as the fear of the end of the world seems in hindsight, I'm grateful for the awareness it brought me. I felt inspired to really look deep inside and examine my life, and find all the opportunities I had to grow. These feelings are often reserved for New Years, so it's as if like we got a head start on our resolutions and intentions for 2013!
I do a lot of videos and writing on healthy food and lifestyle choices, but one aspect of wellness I don't explore often enough is the emotional side of it. That's why when I redesigned this website I created a section called "Feel" to focus in on holistic health care, fitness, everyday living tips and inspiration for the mind. I haven't created much content on these topics yet, so I was thrilled when Way Better Snacks asked their ambassadors to do an article around the phrase, "Eat Better. Live Better. Be Better." Clearly I have the first two elements covered, so I want to take an opportunity to delve a bit further into the third.
While watching a TED talk this evening I heard a line that really impacted me: "studies have shown that compassion enhances the immune system." This comes as no surprise, but I immediately started researching it online to find out more.
The data originated from Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies, where researchers discovered that individuals who engage in compassion meditation (a deep focus on interactions with others and feelings of empathy) may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress. Here's a great summary of the study, taken from Family Health Guide:
When events in life leave us stressed, cortisol and interleukin-6 usually increase, especially if the situations are long-lasting and we cannot shake off the stress. But compassion meditation buffers the effects of stressful life situations, not only psychologically by making us feel better, but also physically by reducing the actual biological agents of potential illness in our bodies, thereby protecting us from illness.
Meditiation in general can change brain structure within two months and is a great way to set your intentions for the day to treat people and animals with love and respect. If so many positive changes can occur from meditiation, imagine how much of an impact physical acts of compassion have on our bodies. On the other hand, stress and anger have been found to have the exact opposite effect and result in heart problems, cancer, depression and beyond.
Compassion comes in many forms and enhances our lives and those around us. That is why it is one of the driving forces behind people who go out of their way to take care of the environment and animals. How wonderful to know that it can lead to physical health as well.
What forms of compassion have you been demonstrating lately?
I designed the above image to spread around social media because I feel this is such a powerful piece of information - please feel free to share it with anyone who could benefit from the inspiration. This was a modification done without permission using a popular image by Don Farrall.
If you haven't been following the "veganism is offensive" discussion, you can read my post on it here and/or see the on-going input on Facebook first here, then here, and here. In the multiple discussions, I received nearly 100 comments in 24 hours - clearly this is a hot topic.
I've tried to keep myself out of this for the most part and take the role as moderator, but since I started the discussion I've been brought into it. Some people thought I was asking if I came across offensive, but I was asking if vegans as a group did. For the most part I've received some really enlightening comments, but despite trying to keep it neutral, harsh or defensive comments arose from both "sides" (veg and non-veg). And, a few people commented that they think that I am "enabling abuse" by accepting everyone, and "propagating" the idea of vegans being offensive.
I've had bad allergies since I moved to L.A. (go figure). For years I tried every pill, powder, and spray on the market. I consulted several doctors and gave acupuncture a try. And nothing worked. Still awful headaches, sneezing, and running nose. So I gave up and used Flonase for several months, which was the only things that made a difference. However, I always felt guilty about it because it's a steroid with who-knows-what long term effect on my body. My chance to give it up came when my insurance ended, and instead of $20 a pop for Flonase it would cost $130!