Compassion for You Is Compassion for Me
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
Miller Williams (1930-2015)
Compassion is often easily accessible when we witness the suffering of a loved one, particularly a child. The heart opens easily in those moments. And compassion may also arise with little bidding when we encounter a stranger who is clearly experiencing misfortune. But when we feel wronged by another, compassion may seem not only unreachable, but also inappropriate. Yet those moments may be the most powerful opportunities to extend compassion to ourselves by extending it to others. Someone may speak sharply to us, for example, and we grab on to this experience, making it part of our identity for that day, telling friends our story with great indignity, perhaps replaying the scene in our heads and imagining the retribution we could have exacted if we’d only thought more quickly in the moment… For a while, the energy may carry us, but soon we have to acknowledge that it is hollow, and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. We are left feeling tight, small, and closed off from the world. If, instead, we could wonder about the circumstances that may have led to this person’s behavior, acknowledging that there may be some backstory that causes him or her to be so brash, and also imagine that their behavior probably doesn’t feel good to them… then we may begin to soften. Rather than expending energy crafting cutting responses or other forms of retribution, we can offer up a quiet wish for an end to their discomfort. Our heart stays open, we move through the rest of the day with a greater sense of ease, and a sense of openness and connectedness… a sense of empowerment rather than victimhood. In allowing compassion to arise for those who have treated us poorly, we are not condoning, or enabling their behavior. We are merely managing our response to it, extending compassion to them and ultimately to ourselves.
Community Sits This Week:
Monday 7:30 PM Sama Yoga New Canaan
Tuesday 1:00 PM Ferguson Library Stamford
Wednesday 12:00 PM New Canaan Library
Wednesday 7:30 PM Grace Episcopal Church Trumble (in the school building next to the church, downstairs) ***For people in recovery***
Thursday 7:00 PM Ferguson Library Stamford
• Mindfulness in Education Conference @ St. Luke's School in conjunction with Spence School, New Canaan Saturday June 9. Register here.
CMP survives on donations. All of our weekly sessions are free and open to the public, but donations are essential to our sustainability. Checks, cash and credit cards are accepted and donations are tax deductible.
Stay up-to-date on all CMP news and happenings by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Meetup and Insight Timer. And our website CommunityMindfulnessProject.org.
May all beings everywhere without exception walk with an open heart,
The CMP Team