Watching men in high positions fall like autumn leaves has inspired me to start a daily compassion practice. I have no doubt that if these men had more compassion and empathy, they would not assault women. I don’t want my sons to become highly “successful” only to fall from grace from a lack of compassion.
Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center discovered that there isn’t a universal look of compassion, but there is a universal sound of compassion. People around the world make the same sound when they sympathize with the suffering of others—“Aaawwwwhhhhh.:
Moreover, modern research reveals that making this sound stimulates the vagus nerve which lowers inflammation in the body and leads to more pro-social behavior. The vagus nerve runs from most of the major organs in the body to the brain stem. It also runs through the vocal chords and the inner ear.
Making the “aaawwwhhh” sound stimulates the larynx and the inner ear and, thus, the vagus nerve. In addition, Stephen Porges found that when our exhale is longer than our inhale, we also stimulate the vagus nerve and feel more connected with other.
So I am setting a goal of saying “aaawwwwhhh” as many times a day as possible. When I am stuck in traffic, I say “aaawwwhhh.” When my sons start to whine about how they only get to play 2 hours of video games, I reply, “aaaawwwhhh.” Every time I hear a news story about men committing heartless acts, I say, “aaawwwhhhh” for them, for myself, for men in general, and for the victims.
When my aunties in Hawaii would see someone do something harmful, they would make the universal sound of compassion and say, “poor ting.” They felt sorry for individuals who were so disconnected with aloha (love) that they felt the need to cause conflict with others. In essence, my aunties were saying, “Awwwhhhh, poor thing has no aloha.”
Every time I make the universal sound of compassion, I feel warm vibrations resonate through my body. I feel grateful to connect with others through suffering. Everyone becomes my family regardless of what they look like or what they have done.
So grateful for this simple practice.
What daily practices do you do to connect with others?