Practicing Compassion: A Simple Guide
We have all been on the receiving end of a seemingly non-compassionate act: on the freeway someone whizzes by cutting us off; a teller at the bank is dismissive; a telemarketer’s aggressive tone feels invasive; at work a supervisor or co-worker betrays our confidence.
Then there are family members that we love, alas, issues inevitably get in the way. Feelings creep up, buttons are pushed and our heart suffers.
Many times I think that Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama must have come up against trials and tribulations with the human-ness of life. One lesson they have taught me is the importance of healing, compassionate communication that is practiced on a daily basis. Compassion boils down to this: being mindful of situations that arise during our busy days. Let’s face it, most people do not get up in the morning and have a list by their bedside of the people they want to intentionally upset for the day! Most of the upset that occurs among people is mindless and reactive.
Being compassionate allows the mind to expand. I have noticed I am more open and not so critical of others when I mediatate on compassion. In the past I found when I was critical of others who were not trying their best or not being kind to one another, I would end up being frustrated and angry inside. It was as if I were asking “Why would someone do that?” over and over again, spending my day rehearsing the situation.
These judgments narrowed my mind and I suffered with my own anger and would end up ruining my day. Compassion ends these thought cycles and negative feelings by bringing us to feelings of expansion and acceptance.
If I typically only think of myself, more situations are likely to arise that trigger negative feelings inside of me. My mind is narrowed by my own thoughts. When I expand in my heart and become more aware, annoyances dissipate somehow. Recently, I was trying to get to the gym, racing against the clock.
As fate would have it, I ended up behind a senior citizen who was driving very slowly. As I began to feel myself tense up, I took a deep breath and allowed more compassionate thoughts. I am going to be older one day and driving may be scary and difficult, as I don’t see or move like I used to. Within a couple of minutes she became a blessing for me rather than a problem.
On a larger scale, think of the damage that anger and resentment, harbored over years, can affect every aspect of a person’s life. It is like poison. If you know someone like this, inquire within your own heart how they got to this point in their life. They are not intentionally hurting you. More than likely they may have trauma that was never healed.
When you consider this person more deeply, your heart and mind will open. The emotions of anger or frustration will begin to soften for you, as you are now seeing this person through compassionate eyes and not the eyes of judgment. Compassion will naturally lead to forgiveness. This kind of change within the human heart brings with it great opportunities to heal yourself on many levels and also contributes globally to the consciousness of the planet.
Everyone wants to find greater peace and happiness, even if it does not always appear that way. Practicing compassion is the way to allow the natural peace and happiness within you to surface.