book club prayerFrom my perspective I seem to be drawn to three types of articles.  Some are written with the intention of relaying new information; finance, politics, foreign lands…just to mention some of my interests. Others are articles written by people debating or complaining about a particular point of view I hold and expounding on why their way of thinking is best.

And then there are the ones that just make me want to shake my head and say “Really”??

Last month, an article appeared online that fell into the third category, concerning the benefits of meditation.  In studies conducted by the University of Massachusetts, researchers published the following study:

“Last year, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital published a study in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging showing that engaging in a mindfulness meditation program for eight weeks is linked with changes in the memory, empathy, stress and sense of self regions of the brain.”

But what truly set me to thinking “really!” was their supporting documentation that compassionate meditation, not to be confused with mindfulness meditation, was good for the entire person:

"Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer.  Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself.” Mass General 

Really? They learned that having more compassion towards others may be beneficial for oneself***

Seems to me most of us learned this particular bit of wisdom at a very young age, although we didn’t call it meditation – we called it prayer.  And we were also taught that

“Compassion is a key part of spirituality. The definition of compassion is: “a feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow for another who is stricken with misfortune, accompanied by the strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Read more: What Christians Want to Know

Compassion is what we as Christians are called to practice every day, and prayer helps us to practice faithfully that edict. For example, during a moment of prayer/meditation a few months ago I realized how often our society uses three words:  I, Me, and Mine.  We say “I think this, I want this, I prefer, I …I…I”.  We go through the day intoning through words and actions: “that is for me, give this to me, does that looks good on me……me”.  Or we think “that’s mine, should be mine, could have been mine…mine…mine””

Those are not the words of a compassionate person, a prayerful Christian.  Instead, we should try to always remember those three words are promises Our Father made to us when He spoke:

“You are Mine; I will never leave you…come, follow Me"

When you meditate with Christ through deep prayer, those three little words can take on a whole different meaning.

Other articles about the benefits of mediation have been written, but as far as I am concerned no further study is needed.  I am glad researchers have been able to prove that my teachers at St. Columban Elementary School, Birmingham Michigan were right.  Showing compassion to others makes you a better person and people who regularly find the time to pray/meditate are healthier than those that do not.

Father Kenny would be very proud.

Copyright 2013 Carol S. Bannon