On Compassion >>

I had an entirely different post lined up for today, but sometimes, if the spirit moves you, you gotta just go with it. I thought I'd write a little bit about compassion, and its role in our lives.

Today I found out that someone I love is having a rough go at things, and so I immediately thought about them and wanted to send loving, caring, and healing thoughts out to them. What they are going through is partly caused by their own doing, but I don't in the least feel that they deserve to feel as they do. I think most of us feel this way when we know that a friend or family member (or heck, even a stranger!) is having a tough time. I had a yoga class to teach this afternoon, so I thought I'd incorporate the theme of compassion into today's practice, since that was what I was feeling. I talked about feeling compassion for the parts of their minds and bodies that weren't feeling 100% today; to be gentle and aware of those places. I read a quote about a lotus flower blossoming in the mud, and that we all need to remember that we all come from the same trials and obstacles, and that it makes life beautiful and all of us human. I even had everyone give themselves a hug, and reminded them of how happy they should all feel in their own bodies, and how wonderful it was that they made the time to care for themselves today.

After I was done teaching, I was driving home and I started ruminating on some of the details from the class. I started nitpicking this and that, wishing I had done this one thing differently, or done something else another way. But really, the class was fine. The problem was, I wasn't having any compassion for *myself.* How can I be teaching others to feel compassion for themselves and others, when I don't remind myself to do the same thing?

After that little reminder, I felt my shoulders relax a bit. My chest sank back in, and I breathed deeply. Maybe class wasn't perfect, but then what class is? What person is? Nobody but me was still thinking about my tied-tongue or the song they didn't like that I played. It is so much easier to feel empathy and compassion for other people than for ourselves, but if we never cut ourselves a break, how can we expect others to?

Hopefully I can take that reminder of compassion into the rest of my day, my week, my month. Because that's the only way that I'm going to be able to spread it around, and share it with those closest to me, and beyond. One thing that can really help is a simple meditation.

Compassion Meditation >> adapted from {source}

To begin, take a comfortable position. You may want to sit in a chair or on cushions on the floor (just make sure your back is erect without being strained or overarched). You can also lie down. Take a few deep, soft breaths to let your body settle. (note: while I think it is best to sit or lie down in a quiet place, even if you just find yourself waiting in line somewhere or have a few minutes to spare in your day, almost anytime and anywhere is a good time to try this - you will still get lots of benefits. Just be sure to focus on your thoughts wherever you are.)

Closing your eyes or leaving them slightly open, start by thinking of someone you care about already—perhaps she's been good or inspiring to you. You can visualize this person or say her name to yourself, get a feeling for her presence, and silently offer phrases of compassion to her. The typical phrases are: "May you be free of pain and sorrow. May you be well and happy." But you can alter these, or use others that have personal significance.

After a few minutes, shift your attention inward and offer the phrases of compassion to yourself: "May I be free of pain and sorrow. May I be well and happy."

> Then, after some time, move on to someone you find difficult - someone you do not like at ALL. Get a feeling for the person's presence, and offer the phrases of compassion to her. 

> Then, choose someone you've barely met—the supermarket checkout woman or UPS man. Even without knowing his or her name, you can get a sense of the person, perhaps an image, and offer the phrases of compassion.

> Close with the offering of compassion to people everywhere, to all forms of life, without limit, without exception: "May all beings be free of pain and sorrow. May all be well and happy."

I know I'm definitely going to be doing this meditation today. Whether you try it or not, remember to show yourself a little love today, and cut yourself some slack. 

shanti >> sondra



  1. Felicia Melendez8/21/12, 7:06 AM

    Hey Sondra, I'm definitely going to try this sometime today! I have this guided meditation cd by Deepak Chopra and he has kind of a similar meditation on the cd. It is really beautiful. It is important that we have compassion for ourselves so we can share that with others. Great post :)

  2. Beautiful post