The Neuroscience of Being Kind

There are significant scientific studies published regarding kindness and the positive effects of being kind. The Neuroscience of Being Kind has been subject to several research studies in the field of contemplative neuroscience, and the actual proven results in the specific area of kindness, interests me because it gives me needed answers regarding human behaviors.   

One of my preferred areas of science, other than Nutritional Science, Biology and Epigenetics, is Neuroscience; it fascinates me to understand how the brain acts and reacts in response to each person’s behavior.

I would like to disclose that although I love to be up in the ethereal, breathe in and listen to the information coming from above, which includes the guidance of one of my dearest Spirit Guides who allows me to call him João and was a Neurologist in his last past life, I also like to research and get excited when I arrive to proven research studies, done by talented and committed scientists working at this actual time on earth. My spirit guides and my guardian angels all know how well I like to prove my “findings” for the benefit of those that do “not believe without seeing”.

Focusing on a question I was asked as to how I choose the timing or frequency and the order of these articles by subjects - as I have disclosed in other articles - all of my writings on Awakening of a Blue Moon have the assistance of my team of Spirit Guides and Guardian Angels – meaning – these subjects I write about, not only, have been my own subjects of study but they are randomly chosen to be written about by my team. I never had to choose a subject or look for a theme – they have found me each day I write them; as for the order?!... I use no order – they choose the order which I think is random, but since, up above they are all much more organized than I am, I am sure they must be showing me an order that I should recognize but  simply do not remember!

Getting back to The Neuroscience of Being Kind – let’s first understand what being kind is.

Being kind is a gift given to oneself, to another human being, or any other kind of living being. Being a gift, it simply cannot be faked or have any other reason behind, other than, unselfishness/ altruism to be genuine. Having ulterior motives to be kind simply doesn’t have the same energetic effect as sincere kindness.

There are people who are born virtuously kind but kindness can and should be cultivated. Why? – Because it’s good and positive to everyone involved! Let’s see what science tells us about that.

Research studies in the field of contemplative neuroscience published, prove what kindness actually does in the brain, but put in simple terms for simplicity of understanding they can be translated as:

“Individual acts of kindness release both endorphins and oxytocin, and create new neural connections. The implications for such plasticity of the brain are that altruism and kindness become self-authenticating”.

Contrary to the stress hormones, these “feel good” hormones have a positive and almost immediate effect, when someone is doing a kind act as it causes the brain to release endorphins, the chemicals that give the feelings of a high vibe. Being kind also gives the brain a serotonin boost, the chemical that gives the feeling of satisfaction and general well-being.

Everyone likes to receive a gift, but the joy of giving can be superior to receiving, and then the experience is the most gratifying when it becomes a give and take – it becomes fulfilling and everlasting. 

Saint Francis of Assisi’s famous quote illustrates it very well: “It is in giving that we receive”.  Saint Francis did not only say nice quotes as this one, he actually abandoned a life of luxury and gave everything away for a life devoted to Christianity after reportedly hearing the voice of God, who  - as he wrote - commanded him to rebuild the Christian church and live in poverty. Unfortunately and sadly (in my opinion) Christianity today resembles zero of the teachings of Jesus, and so we now might think Saint Francis gave all his luxury possessions for nothing?!... In reality his experience was part of his path and it marked a lot of people in which I include myself. 

Not everyone is expected to be another Saint Francis, but being kind to oneself and being kind to all living beings, could and should be a way of life for all.

Kindness generates kindness

If you are not one of those - born virtuously kind - know that - kindness can be cultivated and exercised  to become a self-reinforcing routine habit requiring less and less effort to exercise as it becomes a natural way of life.

There is actual data from Functional Magnetic Resonance (FMR) scans showing that even the act of imagining compassion and kindness activates the soothing and affiliation component of the emotional regulation system of the brain, and this is the reason why meditation with actual visualizations within the mind’s eye (the third eye) works so well.

Kindness must be practiced in oneself first! When this is achieved, then it automatically takes action into others. The more kindness you engage in, the more kindness you receive.

Kindness requires action though - at a basic level – it needs to be cultivated toward ourselves as well as others, opening our hearts with compassion for one another, dropping judgments, self-centeredness and self-aggrandizing.

Respect must walk hand-in-hand with kindness! I don’t have to agree with you, but I respect you, I respect the differences between us and I am kind to me and to you.

Original photo ©Virginia Dias - all rights reserved

The brain is as complex as fascinating; a self-organizing system that simulates and represents experiences through competitive as well as cooperative activity of populations of neurons. But this complex system is malleable, and its optimal functioning, depends on the flexibility of the person's behavior in a generalized sort of way. There must be a dynamic balance for a global integration between the mental, emotional and physical states for the optimal functional brain to fully thrive.

A research in the field of contemplative neuroscience done by Zoran Josipovic, a PhD research associate at NYU  - Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and  Co-founder of  the Margam series of talks at New York University -  showcased current research on meditation and consciousness. Also being the  Founding director of Nonduality Institute, an independent center for the science and practice of nondual meditation, specializing in the areas of Cognitive Neuroscience, Affective Neuroscience and Consciousness and the Brain, Zoran Josipovic  has stated that kindness and related competencies can be trained, resulting in both functional and structural neural plasticity. Training in such complex practices, which require simultaneous activation of perceptual, affective and cognitive capacities, increases global synchronization and integration among different networks, leading to enhanced mobilization of the brain's resources and increased processing efficiency. Future research will specify to what degree capacities such as kindness, love and compassion are innate predispositions as opposed to being learned skills. Such research could help us to realize the benefit of that ancient but extraordinary insight from spiritual traditions, which says that the highest good is already present in all of us, and it only needs liberating and cultivating, to blossom and bear fruits of benefit for all”.

Dr. Zoran Josipovic’s findings can be an incentive to start working on oneself; if you think you are not kind to yourself or to others and often say: - this is not in me, I am too stressed, I am too impatient, or whatever excuse you may find!  Now you know it is, and all you have to do is go into yourself, dig in and find it.

 But how?

    -        Go within by getting yourself in a meditative state – away from noise, relaxing, taking a few nice deep breaths,  and ask the question:

    -    “Where is my kindness”, “where is the good in me”, “what should I do to activate the good in me, my kindness”? Listen to the answers, and if possible visualize them, or pay attention to the signs from that moment  on.

The Neuroscience of Being Kind shows a proven possible path into finding “your good”, finding your” kindness”, to facilitate the optimal everlasting balance, both on an individual level and as part of the society we all want and desire. Finding, if hidden, and developing the capacity for kindness with altruism increases positive emotions, balances social connectedness and social healthy behaviors,  decreasing negative feelings we all want to avoid while molding everyone involved in a new healthier lifestyle.

Kindness is positively contagious as it generates more kindness!

Much Love and Light!

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