Can We Cultivate Compassion?; Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Director

A rudimentary dive into compassion research unearthed this: “…While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people…” (UC Berkley, “Greater Good Magazine”)

What could be more impactful on a community than a desire to approach and care for other people? The intentional cultivation of compassion is not only possible, but necessary. Historically, we may have troubled ourselves with any number of other endeavors, but in the turmoil of today, it becomes increasingly urgent that we focus on co-creating spaces where people feel seen, supported, and cared for. Compassion literally means “to suffer together,” but I’d like the focus to be on “relieving suffering together.”

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