The Neurophysiology of Compassion


I love being with someone when the spark of knowing ignites, and they radiate with an impactful experience. I was recently facilitating a workshop where a number of people were in the early discovery of Therapeutic Touch. As regularly happens in these experiential workshops, a significant breakthrough occurred for an attendee, and I was so happy to have been present to share this inner ‘aha’ moment. I recall with vivid detail how profound my personal experience was during my Level One Workshop, and it deepens our connection to, and understanding of each other.

One of the keystones in Therapeutic Touch (TT) is that of Compassion. In fact, it is so central to the process of TT, that Dolores Krieger, co-founder of this method, states “Without compassion, whatever else someone may do, it is not Therapeutic Touch”, from ‘Therapeutic Touch as Transpersonal Healing’ 2002.

So what is compassion, and why is it so critical to Therapeutic Touch? One interpretation is that compassion is the feeling and understanding that each person has within them this inner self, and that we are bound together by this level of consciousness. Further, compassion is the engine that drives the intention.

I attended the International Congress for Therapeutic Touch Practitioners in Seattle earlier this year. Kathy Wilmering, MSW, ARNP, BC, QTTT, presented “The Neurophysiology of Compassion”. She reviewed the brain structures and functions, notably the prefrontal cortex, limbic system and mirror neurons, to explain how loving compassion positively affects brain systems and responses. She was very thorough in her presentation and I was especially intrigued, being one who seeks ever deepening understanding to help inform my interactions and in fact, my way of being in the world.

I witness compassion in action time and time again in my Hospice experiences and my Integrative Health practice, and yet am continually excited and enchanted when seeing it spark in someone new.

I would be happy to help you discover the many benefits of Therapeutic Touch for yourself. I am preparing a list of attendees for our next Free Introductory presentation. Let me know if you would like to join us in Kelowna BC.

In health and vibrancy, Laurie.


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