Monthly Archives: February 2018

LKM – the effects on the brain of a special kind of meditation

I’ve been ranging a bit far afield from corseting lately. The reasons? Perhaps it comes from growing maturity with age than in the past? I hope so! Perhaps I can see more connections in life, but also yearn for a simpler time with more interpersonal connection. The latter seems to have gone by the wayside on my daily walks, as those texting walk by me ignoring me, if not almost running into me! They avert their eyes, preferring to look up, across the street, or continue to look down at their phones. Anything but making eye contact — and in a quiet , slower and less populated San Francisco neighborhood that doesn’t demand isolation from real life social contact in order to live in crowded cities (picture crowds of people jammed into NYC subways staring out, each one alone in a crowd).

Of course, I’m also working on intrapersonal connection, too! Connecting with what is really important now for me, not holding on to the past either in terms of resentments or profession and how I saw myself in the corset world or how I used to feel in general. What seems to be more important is to make my life more organic in how it unfolds, to be more open to what is coming without worrying so much, and to be more in touch on a daily basis with how I feel and what I “seem” to want to do with my day.

Of course I’m semi retired now, working only with one senior corsetiere (a super great one for making comfy training corsets, by the way — and that’s Sheri Jurnecka from Oakland). So I have more time and freedom to determine how I want to spend my day—mainly slowing down from a fever pitch demanded of us when our livelihood beckons and we want more material security and/or family growth.

I was led from my Alexander Technique teacher’s website today, to LKM, or Loving Kindness Meditation. I’m lately interested in the brain and how the brain wants to protect us from harm but often misleads us with messages that don’t fit our physical needs at the time. In other words, our brain is programmed to send the wrong messages from a right motivation! Of course that deals with the area of neurology. So here is what I learned about LKM:

The practice of LKM changed several important brain regions: both the insula and the temporal parietal junction (TPJ) lit up as a result of LKM. The insula is the part of the brain responsible for our ability to empathize with others, and to make oneself aware of emotional and physical present-moment experiences. While both groups saw an increase in insula activity, the group with 10,000 hours of experience showed significantly more activation than the other group. This group was experiencing higher levels of compassion than the non-practicing group.

A similar finding appeared for the TPJ. The TPJ, like the insula, is also related to our ability to process empathy and our ability to attune to the emotional states of others. Again, compared to short-term meditators, those with a long-term meditation practice showed significant activation of this brain region. (From:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kripalu/loving-kindness-meditation_b_3961300.html)

I’ve been thinking, too, about empathy, and empathy vs. compassion. A smart neighbor of mine who practices employment law, mused recently that the deluge of incidences of sexual harassment (perhaps not more incidences, but more courageous reporting of it!)  results from the difficulty or inability of many men to feel compassion. I thought a long time about her point. I agree in part.

But to me, the basic issue is not compassion. It’s: do we have empathy with others? According to Websters, compassion is sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. It isn’t limited to distress and it doesn’t start with consciousness of others. I think that empathy starts with being aware of ourselves, our emotions, our bodies, and then becoming aware of others and what they are feeling and what they may need.

We can’t possibly have compassion if we don’t start with empathy. The ability and willingness to put yourself in anothers shoes, to me is “empathy.” Through my Alexander Tech. teacher, I’ve been learning how to be more empathetic to or with myself. I have to put myself into my own shoes and really concentrate hard on becoming aware of exactly how I feel at any given moment.

Putting yourself in touch with yourself during the day and sometimes during each moment, is what happens when you corset waist train. It’s just one method to improve that process.

Elyse says it has a lot to do with sight, seeing and the eyes. Fancy that and who knew? But that’s a topic for another blog a bit later.

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