If your compassion doesn’t include yourself,
it is incomplete.
What about you? Can you be sensitive, caring, and extend kindnesses to others while ignoring yourself completely? Are you able to look with understanding on the “failings” and sad situations of others in their struggles, yet hold back the same level of compassion for yourself? It seems that some of us “buy into” the notion that expressing compassion for our selves is egotistical and inappropriate. How dare we make the same allowances for ourselves as we might convey to others in pain!
Compassion must begin at home, in ourselves. If we do not consider ourselves worthy and deserving of this self-care, then how can we legitimately pass it on to others? Compassion must grow from a sense of self-love and from our own open hearts.
LESSON FORTY TWO
Compassion! I have written on many subjects that relate to this issue of compassion — kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, and love — but not directly focusing on compassion. Yet compassion, for others and for ourselves, offers us spiritual insights that the other topics do not. It engages a sense of empathy that allows us to enter into a special place with another. We “walk in their shoes.”
Can you, on a constant level, use the practice of compassion to alter how you see yourself and others in the world? Can you bring compassion into your awareness even at times when your anger has been activated and your impatience has risen too high? I have often found this to be a challenge. I can easily site chapter and verse when I lacked compassion for myself and for others. Until I learned to practice forgiveness in all ways, (which may not happen instantaneously but is a process), I allowed myself to be tortured in this unhealthy state.
Maybe some of these suggestions will be helpful to you:
- Engage the silent witness practice, which I have written about previously. Stand aside from yourself and look with compassion and great kindness on yourself no matter what you have done in the present or past. See yourself through the eyes of one who is all forgiving and loving. It could be represented by a deity, an angel, a loving parent, a spirit guide, God, but, ultimately, it is YOU. It is always the heart connection within yourself.
- Look all around you – in the present and into the past. Are there other fellow human beings you have cut out of your circle of acceptance due to disagreements, political persuasion, class lines, or anything else. You can take a try at engaging acceptance and compassion by seeing them through impartial eyes or as they may see the world. Aren’t you doing more damage to yourself than to them by seeing yourself as superior or self-righteous in your attitude? Maybe those assessments are covers for your own damaged self that could use some healing.
- Now take a moment to think about other co-habitants in the world – the animals, plants, the whole of ecology. We humans have so often wantonly destroyed our own home, decimating animal populations and forests, for example. Everything is part of the same energy system. Just maybe that tree you just chopped down and that deer you just shot is related to your own soul – especially if these acts were for personal gain and not necessity.
- Remember, as is the philosophy in The 52, that you use none of these lessons in such a way that you feel less loving to yourself. Everything unfolds with Divine Consciousness in this play of the world. Every practice you use is meant to increase the Love you feel for yourself.
As the Dalai Lama has observed:
It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion towards others.
If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.
Whenever there is a choice, choose Love, for yourself and others. It is an easy choice and always the right one.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com