“Compassion, loving-kindness, altruism, and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood are the keys not only to human development, but to planetary survival.” Dalai Lama
A feeling of compassion is a way of saying: “I see your suffering and in this moment, I choose to be with you and I choose to accept you as you are.”
Compassion can be fierce, especially when facing unbearable pain, as well as soft as a feather when tenderness is birthed from layers of numbness. Very often it’s intertwined with a quality of deep acceptance.
Some of the examples of compassionate presence include:
- When someone cries, we don’t interrupt them or try to make them feel comfortable, but we are able to be with what is unfolding.
- When someone expresses their anger (constructively), we don’t automatically shut down, feeling unsafe, but we can extend care, being aware that there is a reason for that anger to arise.
Compassion is a felt recognition of the struggle of another human being. It can be practiced with oneself or it can be a part of a relational dynamic. It allows the humanity of one person to touch the humanity of another.
Compassion doesn’t ignore the reality of a situation. It doesn’t create illusions. On the contrary, it opens a doorway for kindness to enter, so that the bitterness and judgment don’t become permanent residents inside our minds, hearts and bodies.
Compassion creates a warm environment in which our suffering, hurt, disappointment can be met and held. When we live in that kind of an environment, we are able to open back up to the goodness of life, to see the complexity of the situation and to feel less alone.
Not too long ago, I needed to rely on compassion to get me through an experience that felt difficult. I noticed that a part of me wanted to toughen up and ignore what I felt inside.
Although, my mind was telling me that it wasn’t a big deal, I could feel a pulling sensation in my chest.
So, I paused and paid attention.
I jotted down every single thought that came to my mind. I gave myself the freedom to be raw and not so “spiritual and understanding”. I noticed how much of myself, I was rejecting when “unspiritual” words came out on paper.
Then, I gave myself time to explore my feelings: I felt rejected, unwanted, and misunderstood. I welcomed those too.
After that, I allowed the voice of compassion to speak to me.
When I heard that voice, I felt an immediate softening in my heart and a release of energy from my chest. I recognized that compassion gave me access to deeper layers of this experience, that echoed into my past.
The voice of compassion told me: “I am proud of you for taking this risk. I am proud of you for being vulnerable. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
I noticed that I didn’t feel so claustrophobic anymore and a sense of ease entered my being.
Here’s a practice you can use, if you are struggle with finding your voice of compassion:
What would a loving and caring mother say to you in this moment of difficulty?
Or what would a loving and caring friend say to you?
Remember, it’s possible to change the way we relate to ourselves. In a moment we choose to treat ourselves in a compassionate way, feeling into our humanity, we let go of the coldness and judgment with which the mind or ego likes to approaches difficulties. We stop attacking yourself and each other. We discover a balance between our mind and our hearts, welcoming a sense of warmth and care, until they become our new way of living life.