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Compassion can be Beneficial to Your Health.

compassionate helping hands

Please comment at the end if this blog helps you in any way ?

As a 6th grade girl in catholic school I was given an assignment by my teacher.  She was a wonderful, tiny, dressed in full habit, Carmelite nun.  Her words were, “Bring back canned goods for the hungry tomorrow”. My interpretation was, “Bring back ALL the canned goods you have for the hungry”.  Once she uttered these words, an exhilaration ran through me as if I had been given the most important mission of my life. I remember an electrifying shock of joy ran through my body. Of course we all must feed the hungry! There should never be anyone hungry!

Since my mother left very early for work and my grandmother never questioned the orders of a nun, I scooted the step-ladder and climbed up to the cupboards. I put every canned good I could fit into a large paper bag and somehow carried it 3 NYC blocks to St. Joan of Arc elementary school. To this day, I do not remember my arms hurting or any feeling of inconvenience.  All I felt was complete happiness that the hungry were going to eat. I visualized all of them opening the cans and eating. It was awesome! 

I do remember, however, that feeling of discomfort when my classmates only brought 2 or 3 cans of food as I plopped my almost ripping bag onto her desk. That feeling disappeared when the nun smiled and thanked me for carrying the heavy bag. It was a lesson for all of us, that day, not to care what others think but to only focus on the giving part.  My mom had another opinion when she opened the cupboards that evening.


How is compassion beneficial for your health? According to Dr. James R. Doty, one of the ways we can enhance our health is through compassion.

James R. Doty, M.D., FACS, FICS is a Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. He  has written a book called, Into the Magic shop, The Secrets Of The Brain and Compassion. He states in a TEDx Sacramento Talk, “We are hardwired to care, recognize suffering in others, and alleviate that suffering.” He also goes on to say (I will paraphrase) that when we go into the fight/flight/freeze response (sympathetic nervous system) we feel stress, anxiety, depression but when we are compassionate we reverse that and our heart rate and blood pressure decrease, our immune system increases, stress hormone levels return to baseline and the frontal areas of the brain work better.

This also occurs when we sit for 15 min, slowly breathe in and out and focus on compassion. I recommend the actual physical act of doing something good for another person so you can feel that electrifying shock of joy too!

With love and health,


Jackie Castro-Cooper, MPT

I hold a Masters in Physical Therapy and specialize in John F. Barnes' Myofascial Release. My passion is helping patients discover their own path to healing through integrative and holistic therapies.