Why is it so hard for us to connect on a deep level with others, particularly those who are suffering? We constantly find ourselves interrupted and inundated with tasks and stresses. We are disconnected, sleepwalking through our lives, unable to help even ourselves. There is a better way.
In The Compassionate Connection: The Healing Power of Empathy and Mindful Listening, Dr. David Rakel explains how we can strengthen our bonds with others—all the while doing emotional and physical good for ourselves.
As founder and director of the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine program, Dr. Rakel discovered that we become the most effective helpers when we use the tool of human connection. Drawing on his own research and practice, as well as thirty years of published studies in medicine, sociology, psychology, meditation, and neuroscience, Dr. Rakel “stacks the deck” in favor of healing and introduces the concept of bio-psycho-spiritual authentic awareness. Not only are our bodies and minds connected, but also it has been scientifically proven that our capacity to feel beauty, awe, and compassion enhances our health and wellbeing.
In The Compassionate Connection, Dr. Rakel provides an innovative approach to enhancing health in others and strengthening relationships through the art of connecting. These tools guide us to improve our connections—whether between doctor and patient, husband and wife, parent and child, or boss and employee—and live with clarity, wisdom, and good health.
Each Part of the book is made up of several chapters, each of which are broken down into smaller sections:
- Compassion Hastens Healing— How can caregivers evolve beyond the dangerous ‘find it, fix it’ pharmaceutically dominated medical culture they live in and move towards a holistic approach which reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient.
- Mind and Body Connected— Elaborates on the ways one’s self-healing process can be activated. The compassionate connection element is an active healing aiming at putting the mind’s capabilities to work in healing.
- The Biology of Connection— Empathy and compassion are associated with our biological capacity to share positive feelings. Empathy is associated with the sharing of positive feelings while emotional contagion is associated with negative feelings. The good news here is that sensitized mirror neurons can be cultivated and activated to communicate positive feelings.
- Make Health Primary— This requires one to have meaning and purpose. With the latter, with something to aspire to, we can develop positive expectations and thus strengthen the possibility of positive physiological effects.
Compassionate connection, thus, requires preparation. And this preparation leads to mindfulness. Caregivers must learn to pause and listen, not just hear, what the patients are saying.
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.