Monday, October 18, 2010

Practicing Compassion Every Day for Transformation and Health

Autumn is the season for letting go. This is a time for reflection on where we are at this moment, what we have experienced that brought us to this place in our journey, and to ponder what inner work we can do that will lead us to where we really want to be. Just as the leaf is released from the tree, or the raindrop drops from the cloud, Fall is a time for learning detachment, letting go, and to not be attached to the outcome.

A recent conversation with a dear friend provided an unexpected opportunity to consider the importance of compassion in our daily lives. I have found that practicing compassion has brought ease to my heart around difficult personal relationships. And I find that I frequently have to work at compassion every day.

We each carry pain and hurt deep in our hearts. Perhaps from difficult childhood experiences that color our adulthood …rejections (real or perceived by us) from someone that we love and from whom we
wanted love from in return  … loss of someone or something that was held in close and of great importance – a job, a home, a precious animal companion.

[Kuan Yin is the dearly loved Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, cherished in many cultures worldwide. Embodying compassionate loving kindness, her presence calms those who suffer and brings peace to the heart. ]

This pain and hurt lodges deeply within, and continually calls out for our attention in many different ways. Many can manifest physical conditions that have some relationship to these hurts. Others find themselves expressing anger and bitterness in relationships – at work and at home. Holding on to emotions that are better let go brins a feeling of what I describe as a “tension in the soul” that brings an edge, like a paper cut, to our daily existence – a hurt that is not incapacitating, but one of which we are always aware.

To me, Compassion is a deep feeling of spiritual love, loving kindness, and acceptance of a person or situation for exactly what she/he or it is (or was). Compassion is much more than pity. Genuine compassion for another actually begins within - with love, forgiveness and acceptance of ourselves.
Meditating on compassion helps us observe our emotional, spiritual, mental and physical processes that are connected to holding on to behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us well. Walking (or “moving”) meditation, when we are moving and open – especially along water – helps us move into an altered state of awareness that enables us to perceive messages from what is around us. Paying attention to our thought processes and the joy of movement often leads to experiencing creative problem-solving. A sitting meditation is a receptive, universal posture that aids us in accessing universal wisdom and learning. This posture teaches us how to wait, listen, and observe what is being revealed (A. Arrien)  Messages may come through our dreams, as our unconscious delivers information to our awareness.

Blue and pink are the color rays carrying compassion and love. Working with potent crystals such as Aquamarine, Rose Quartz, Rhodonite and Clear Crystal will help you focus the energies of compassion, healing, and transformation in meditation and dreams.

Practicing compassion means stepping back from a powerful hurt and examining the thought processes we engage in around this particular experience and/or belief that we are holding onto “for dear life” - regardless of what carrying this pain has created in our life. A clear-eyed, open-hearted review of the experience or belief will usually show us outdated beliefs and attitudes that we can address, work to release, and change into a powerful transformation of how we view the world.

Challenging? Absolutely. This is a vitally important practice that changes us, and radiates outward to change the world.

Suggested Resources:
Arrien, Angeles, The Four Fold Way, HarperSanFrancisco, 1993

The Dalai Lama on Compassion

Schlitz, M, Vieten, C, and Amorok, T, Living Deeply The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life, New Harbinger Publications 2007