Ways to Practice Compassion and Why it is Important
What is Compassion?
Although the etymology of the word compassion is “to suffer together”, compassion can embrace a much broader way of relating to others.
We have talked about Empathy in the past, so how does empathy compare to compassion?
You can think of empathy in terms of being aware of the energy and emotions of those around you, while compassion is one way you can manage that awareness.
In the Buddhist tradition, practitioners view compassion and love as both being high frequency emotions. So rather than feeling the pain of someone else and suffering alongside them, you can be present with their suffering while opening a door to a higher frequency – love.
Compassion for Others Starts with Self
Many people think that compassion only relates to your actions toward other people. The process as in most things starts with your beliefs and treatment toward yourself.
You must be compassionate with yourself first to show compassion for other people. Understanding your own needs is crucial to understanding other people’s needs.
If you are struggling in your own life, you will not be in the right state of mind to help anyone else. Treating other people well starts by treating yourself well first.
It can start by simply practicing a routine of self-awareness so that you are more aware of your own and other’s energy.
From there you can begin to cultivate a practice of holding compassion and love no matter what is happening around you.
How Compassion Improves Ourselves
- Being compassionate to yourself leads to a greater sense of health and happiness.
- Building compassion helps us to elevate our awareness.
- Once you regularly practice compassion with yourself, holding that energy with others will become much easier.
It is interesting to note that seasoned Buddhist practitioners were studied as they practiced compassion during their meditation and they were found to be in a very elevated brain wave state – known as gamma. Working with the energy of compassion can be a powerful practice for your body and mind.
Tips for Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
A common question is, “How do I practice compassion?”
One way to practice compassion is to notice what others are going through. Be aware of their energy, their thoughts and emotion. Then, practice non-judgment and hold a caring space for them. This is not about trying to “fix” things, or shift the other person into a state you feel more comfortable with, but rather to embrace where they are at and hold love while honoring their current point in their journey.
You also need to do the same for yourself. When things are not as you would like them to be and you are feeling resistance, move into a place of love and open up to the energy around you.
Compassion is a way to step into the center of the circle, where you release attachments to the way you think things “should” be and embrace what is.
Being Compassionate with Yourself
To practice compassion with yourself, try creating time for mindfulness every day.
Any activity that takes you out of the monkey mind and into the present moment will count.
During this time, practice doing the activities that promote peace and calm in your own life. Some people enjoy exercise, others knitting, some meditation, others yoga. Try a variety of things to notice what elevates your energy.
After a while you will notice that events and people that used to trigger you no longer do and that your day to day experience of life is much more enjoyable.
Each day, try reflecting on how things flowed in your day. Observe your judgement of what you believe went “right” and what went “wrong”. Feel gratitude for what resonated and went well and send that gratitude to the situations that did not work out the way you wanted.
Be sure to connect with the positive aspects of yourself that were highlighted in your day. Seeing the good in yourself helps you to see that light in others.
Increase Your Awareness
Compassion involves opening up to both sides of duality. What we resist strengthens and persists. Any time you find a charged belief coming up, use that to become aware of the other side. If you strongly believe something, take some time to open up to the other perspective. Each person is doing the very best they can given their level of awareness. Elevate yours so you can see the bigger picture.
Focus on What You Can Shift
Rather than spending a lot of time connected to negative information sources, focus on more positive channels.
If there are imbalances around you that you feel called to help shift, be a force of good. Rather than complain and lament about the situation, take positive steps to help.
Donate your time and resources to things that bring you and others more joy and well-being.
When you are in the midst of negativity, see if you can maintain your elevated state, hold love in your heart and continue to shine your light.
That is our goal – to be able to be immersed in the human experience while honouring the evolution of our soul.
And remember, when you need to recharge – do so.
I hope you find this helpful.