Definition: a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering; the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it; tenderness, mercy, clemency, commiseration, deep sympathy and caring
Having compassion is about pure open-heartedness, a witnessing and acceptance of what is without judgment. Compassion is felt in the heart and expands our heart as we let go of attachments to stories. It is not a projection of our pain onto another nor is it an expectation based on our assumptions.
As with sympathy or empathy, compassion implies the ability to feel what the other is feeling - however, compassion moves even deeper. It is experienced in the present moment not as a feeling for, but feeling with another that at its most profound level has the capacity to heal the spirit, for in this place of deep tender witnessing one is not alone.
We may have compassion for an animal, another person’s pain and suffering, even the earth. However, it is often most difficult to have compassion for ourselves. There are parts of ourselves that we wall off through fear, shame, and guilt or through indoctrination, patterns from early childhood experiences, or through group mind. When we are able to extend compassion to self - dropping the judgment and experiencing the feelings without condemnation or recrimination, but with tenderness and caring - we heal a part of ourselves, not only the wounded part but also the part that judges ourselves and others.
What brings up feelings of deep compassion? When do you have most compassion for others? When do you have compassion for yourself? Where can you expand this level of compassion to yourself, others and or to other places in your life? If you could feel “with” another, how would that change how you are with them? If we could all increase our capacity to feel compassion, how would it change the world?
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© 2010 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski