Talk to yourself as you would to someone you love.
— Brene Brown
The meaning of compassion is to recognize that there is suffering and then to take action to help. It means embodying a tangible expression of love for those who are suffering.
As I reflect on this word and our theme for April, it’s incredibly noticeable how our world would benefit greatly from a unified effort to become a more compassionate society. Right? There is such an obvious need for us to make progress that will create peace and symbiosis for all humankind. This way of living should (must) be threaded into our way of living in each step of our daily lives. It’s each and every one of our responsibilities.
I consider myself a compassionate person. I’ve taken workshops on compassion; it is a common theme in my conversations with my children and my daily meditation practice. Yet as much as I feel able to hone an ability to be compassionate towards others, I notice often that I struggle with returning the same gift of allowance towards myself. This is especially true when I’m feeling more challenged in my life situations. And life has been incredibly challenging this past year!
I had the thought the other day, while I was inside the spin cycle of self-criticism, that in order to feel better and turn my day around, I just needed to cut myself some slack- or at the very least be okay with my shortcomings. At first, it was difficult for me to make the shift, yet I found that even as I focused on my intention to dig deep enough to find self-compassion – something inside of me began to change. I felt a surrender. I became okay with the feelings and then was able to take action and move into a place of self-acceptance because of the compassion I found for myself. After all, ideally, none of us ever intentionally mess up, fall short, or purposefully choose a path that does not feel good to another. When I put it that way to myself, I was able to realign with my intention and understand and accept that what I was telling myself didn’t translate with my belief of self. Thank goodness we always have a second chance to try again with a desire to do and be better. Second chances are great!
A thought that helps me realign with self-compassion is to remember that when I make mistakes or find myself struggling, it’s common to feel like I’m the only one experiencing those emotions. This is what makes us human and connects us all. We all suffer and experience setbacks. Instead of isolating myself from others, remembering that I’m not alone with what I’m feeling- I must choose to resist the urge to compare myself or my process with others. Hard, but so important.
When painful moments arise, my advice is to be mindful of the feelings that come up versus suppressing them, identify what you’re feeling, and refrain from any judgments that may come up around your emotions. Being aware of your emotions is different than getting lost in your own story and feeding into the drama. Oh the drama!!
I did some research and learned that there are only 3 steps for compassion toward others and toward self. 3 steps is obtainable!
For Compassion towards others: Daniel Goleman says: True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” —
- Bring attention or awareness to recognizing that there is suffering
- Feel emotion and moved by that suffering
- Wish for there to be relief from that suffering
For Compassion towards ourselves, Dr. Kristin Neff says, “treating yourself like someone you care about with support, encouragement, and warmth.”
- Common Humanity
And how this relates to your TDM class practice:
- While practicing, notice where you can begin practicing compassion for yourself in how you actively choose to lift yourself up versus beat yourself down. Notice ways you can get involved to bring about this same change around you by motivating and inspiring others.
- Remember! Getting out of position in class is not giving up! It is having compassion for your body that is merely asking for you to press the reset button!
- Notice those around you, whether indoors, outdoors, or on the Zoom platform- that everyone has the same set of challenges as you! Collectively invite compassion into your room by allowing whatever is there to be fully and lovingly accepted! If you need to reset, redirect your focus, or leave and come back into the room – do it! This is the same way compassion spreads out in our world.
My ask for myself and for you:
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama
Who could say it better?