Compassion. What is it really? Compassion requires mindfulness, empathy, presence and tenderness. It all starts from within – cultivating compassion for yourself and your circumstances, whatever they may be.
In the West compassion is defined as a feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering of others and the desire to help them. Whereas in the East, the Buddist tradition defines compassion as a tender heart that trembles in the face of suffering. The Dali Lama goes on the describe compassion as an exercise not only of emotion but of cognition. Compassion is a blend of emotion, empathy and reason. When we exercise compassion, first with ourselves in the face of great personal suffering, we will be better prepared to maintain our composure during challenging times.
Compassion isn’t about feeling sorry for someone else or for yourself – compassion begins with acceptance for what is. Acceptance with tenderness, awareness and non judgment. Judgment clouds our ability to think clearly.
Compassion is not foolishness – compassion is courage and bravery. Compassion calls for a realistic view of the circumstances that one is facing, with tenderness and ability to open up to acceptance. Once we accept our circumstances, we can move ahead and change them if we so desire. This is when courage comes in. Courage is necessary to actuate change. Courage requires compassion for ourselves and the circumstances in our lives that no longer serve us so that we have the strength and fortitude to push through the challenging times. I have seen this for myself and the women I have worked with time and again. The tipping point comes when we admit to ourselves that something is no longer serving us, that someone you love is no longer that person to you – specifically when moving through a divorce. It is foolish to deny what is real, it is courageous to face fears with a tender and compassionate heart. Once a realistic view and acceptance of what is present – compassion is simpler to incorporate.
How to Begin to Incorporate Compassion Into Your Daily Life and Practice:
- Begin by seeing things for what they are.
- Observe your thoughts.
- Change the narrative by starting to observe your internal tone. Redirect negative self talk and reactive thoughts .
- Stop, breath, get grounded, and grateful.
- Quiet your mind, open your heart.
Holding space for yourself through a lens of truth opens up the opportunity to express tenderness, love and compassion. Compassion heals.