“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of others, coupled with a desire to alleviate it. Compassion has nothing to do with any self-interest or expectations.
Through practice, we can increase our own capacity for generosity and love, and in doing so, we benefit both as individuals and as a society. When you only think about what you need or what you can get in life, you will find you have a sense of emptiness that you cannot fill.
Compassion for yourself and others is not always easy, especially when your loved ones are in pain. When we dwell primarily in the reasoning mind, we often experience other people as obstacles towards our goals rather than teachers on our path. When you live each situation with your heart you can embrace and accept all aspects of yourself and of the people around you.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -―Anne Frank
Open your heart to yourself first. If critical thoughts or feelings of unworthiness arise, let compassionate energy flow toward yourself with thoughts of love and acceptance. It is important to spend time getting this right first as you cannot be compassionate with others if you don’t feel it for yourself. Catch yourself next time you are in a stressful situation and ask yourself “Am I connecting to my mind or my heart?” and see the difference.
After practicing and feeling it within yourself then start directing this energy outward again, calling to mind other people you know and embracing them with this same compassion, accepting both their strengths and their shortcomings.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes
Studies have proven that freely serving others can reduce anxiety and depression, speed up recovery from illness, reduce pain, help older adults stay mobile and increase longevity. There is powerful evidence that having compassion for yourself and others is good for your health.
2013 is just around the corner, so what a wonderful way to begin this year by practicing your connection to a compassionate heart. You are likely to gain much more profound insight into your own wellbeing and have more success in your interpersonal life. Compassion facilitates meaningful connections with all those around you.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama