COMPASSION BY DONNA DAY © 2022
This week’s Peace Nurturing Practice is compassion. The practice of compassion is elemental, it flows naturally from open hearts. We are innately wired to want to help others, to help anyone, woman, man, child, bird, dog, cat, horse, dragonfly, etc. in distress. “Compassion is to know that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” – Frederick Buechner
How much we use and increase our capacity for compassion is totally up to us.
The Charter for Compassion begins with these words: “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.” It is an ode to brotherhood, justice, and peace. To learn more about their wonderful work and mission, visit: https://charterforcompassion.org/charter/charter
As to practicing compassion, whenever we observe ourselves or someone else feeling or acting afraid, irritable, upset, triggered, or angry, we place our hands on our hearts, breathe slowly and deliberately, and send loving kindness and compassion to ourselves.
At this point, if you are like me, your instinct is to immediately send love to the other person and bypass yourself. A process I know well from having done it for years. The problem with what I was doing is simple: you must be totally in your heart and peaceful when you send compassion or you will end up exhausted, depleted, and unpeaceful. Not at all our goal of peace all around!
After you have sent loving kindness to yourself, you will feel serene and be ready to send love to the other(s). It is the peace version of putting on your lifejacket before you try to help someone else.
It's particularly important to place our hands on our hearts because it guides us to drop our focus from thinking about the situation to feeling what we and others are experiencing.
Minds make judgments
Hearts send love
Again, when you feel calm and serene, you are ready to send loving compassion to others and to assist them because you will be coming from a place of clarity and love. By choosing compassion rather than judgment of ourselves and others, we allow love to flow to and from us and do its glorious, mystical work of healing and bringing peace.
Reflections – As I mentioned, for many years, my concept of compassion was that it flows outward towards others. It never occurred to me that it might be important to be compassionate with myself. Never, that is, until I found I was exhausted from constantly extending outward. It seems I assumed I did not need compassion myself. My outward compassion resulted in inward overloads until my commitment to peace, to being peace would no longer tolerate my bypass. What a marvelous blessing to finally adopt a sustainable practice. It’s something I still work on and have had plenty of opportunities since Hurricane Ian to stumble, practice, and succeed.
Today when I awoke, I felt listless and tired. Rather than go for my morning walk and continue the seemingly unending cleanup outside, I choose to stay inside, read, meditate, and write. I have felt wonderful because I have been so gentle and compassionate with myself. I had a couple of sweet opportunities to practice compassion today on the phone and in person. I sat and smiled with my hand on my heart while I listened and beamed love to myself and then to the other precious soul. In both cases, the result was sharing love while building peace for ALL involved.
Thank you for helping me remember what I want to know!
As I choose compassion
first for myself
and then for others
I become a
Your turn to reflect – Do you ever fall into my trap of your compassion only flowing outward? Observe yourself this week and see how you respond to someone else’s angst. If you don’t remember to be compassionate with yourself first in some situations, keep trying. You will. Notice if some situations are easier for you.
Thank you for being a vital part of Peace on Earth by nurturing peace in your heart, in your life. The more that you embody peace, the more peace there is.
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed. (Click on the blue link below.)
“World peace must develop from inner peace.
Peace is not just mere absence of violence.
Peace is, I think,
- Dalai Lama
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Compassionate glow of dusk
Photo by Donna Day
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