This post is part of a greater movement – 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion #1000Speak. Today, over a thousand people all over the world are posting about compassion to make a positive difference in the blogosphere and hopefully the world.
Love is a mind that brings peace, joy, and happiness to another person. Compassion is a mind that removes the suffering that is present in the other. We all have the seeds of love and compassion in our minds, and we can develop these fine and wonderful sources of energy. We can nurture the unconditional love that does not expect anything in return and therefore does not lead to anxiety and sorrow.
The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We go “inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the object of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”
Excerpted from Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
I recently wrote about the dark side of compassion. Confronting and accepting our dark side is the first step in compassionate living. The next step is self-love and acceptance. Then we can spread our love and compassion out into the world.
How to practice compassion
- Confront and accept our dark side.
- Work on compassion and love towards self.
- Remember we are all One. The other is just a mirror.
- Practice going into the heart space.
- Live a life of no harm.
Self-compassion and self-love
There are times I find it easier to be compassionate to others rather than myself. Anyone else have that? In those times, I imagine being my own best friend and treat myself with the same kindness and encouragement. That helps immensely. To remind myself to be loving and gentle with myself, I wrote a personal manifesto.
It is important we learn to treat ourselves with love and compassion. How can we be compassionate towards anyone else if we cannot to ourselves?
I am forgiving when I don’t keep my word, I promise to do better next time, and then I do it. I talk to myself in my head with loving kindness, the way a mother would to her precious child, because I AM my own precious child.
I eat healthy and treat my body right. I get the rest I need and I ALLOW myself to relax. Physical (superficial) care is not conceited or a luxury; it’s a necessity for mental and physical well-being. How do you take care of yourself? Your needs?
I nurture my spirituality through meditation and time spent in nature. Spiritual needs vary. How do you care for your spirituality? Is it something you consider?
What changes can you make to be more compassionate and loving towards yourself?
We are One
Compassion is the door to awakening. It helps us see ourselves in others, which breaks down barriers and makes us realize we are connected, we are One. The first time I had such a realization, I finally felt at peace.
Of course, this is all beautiful and uplifting while you’re meditating in a quiet room, isolated from the world. It is quite a different thing when you’re dealing with (sometimes unpleasant) people and situations, but it’s something we should keep in mind in all our encounters with others.
Our illusion of otherness does have a purpose. The other serves as a mirror to our internal world. It can be a nightmare at times, but others and the world reflect our own internal states, things to be worked on.
Do you work on cultivating wholeness, embracing our connection?
Love and compassion are closely bound. They originate in the same place in our body. For me, they are a type of warmness located somewhere above my stomach. I call this my heart space, and I practice being there regularly.
I started on my own in private, then moved on to doing it on walks in nature near birds and animals. I have found animals can sense you are in that space and will not fear you. They will not fly or run away. Sometimes they will even approach.
I now practice being in my heart space around people. This is the most difficult as both require a great deal of concentration. Being in your heart space around people is protective as well. It is harder to get dragged into someone’s negativity or soul sucking when you are there. Relationships from that space are healthier and more loving.
Imagine what the world would be like if we all related from there most of the time – a lovely thought.
Compassion leads to veganism. Veganism leads to compassion. I am one of those vegans that believe not eating meat makes us more peaceful and loving. I have no hard proof, so you can dismiss me if you want.
Think about the vegans you know. The vegans I know not only love animals and try to actively help them, they intentionally extend this love towards other human beings. Most of us understand the difficulty people have in changing their habits, because many of us have been down that road.
Living a life of no harm will mean different things to different people. My aim is to do the least harm to the planet, the animals, and people. I make all decisions with that in mind. I forgo my own comfort at times, because I believe in the greater good. My life is just a blip on this planet. I want to make a positive impact, not a negative one.
What are you doing to do the least harm? What do you take into consideration when making everyday choices? What areas of your life and surroundings does your compassion encompass? How can you widen your circle of compassion?
To read other posts taking part in 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, click here.