Meditation Is Compassion
On Thursday September 5th, the 3rd annual Addiction Awareness Vigil will take place in New Canaan. CMP is honored to be participating by offering a moment of meditation. In reflecting on which practice to offer, we realized how important it is that compassion and meditation go hand in hand: for people in recovery, for people supporting people in becoming and staying healthy, and for all of us.
As Kevin Griffin points out in One Breath at a Time, “alcoholism and addiction are diseases of self-hatred…acts of self-violence to ourselves… Meditation lets us see negative thoughts and destructive impulses at the moment they appear in the mind. With this clear seeing, we can step in to stop the actions that often follow them.” So meditation, itself, is an act of compassion toward ourselves. This chance to see the thoughts that are driving us to take destructive actions is one example of why, in meditation, contrary to popular belief, we don’t try to stop thoughts. Instead, we notice them as they arise, and then we let them go without investing them with energy, without feeding them, without empowering them, and we use our awareness to inform our behavior.
But in addition to using meditation to become aware of our thought patterns, it’s very healing to deliberately offer ourselves a wish for our own well-being when hurtful thoughts arise. These may be thoughts that tell us we’re bad people, or not worthy of love, or failures. They may also be thoughts to remind us of the harm we’ve caused others. In all of these instances, we can pause, place a hand on or heart (either literally or metaphorically) and acknowledge, “This is hard for me. May I find peace. May I understand my innate goodness and worth. May this serve in some way. May I be free from inner and outer harm.”
For people supporting someone on their journey to well-being, we can resource ourselves by engaging in compassion meditation: deliberately pausing to offer our struggling friend and loved one compassion, offering them wishes for peace, an end to their suffering, an understanding of their innate worth, and freedom from inner and outer harm, and we can offer ourselves compassion for the concern, fear and anguish we may feel on their behalf.
In addition to formally practicing Compassion meditation (see the Audio Library under our Resources page on our website for guided Compassion meditations and discussions), we look for ways to bring our formal practice out into our engaged life. The New Canaan Parent Support Group offers one way to practice compassion. It asks all of us to take the following pledge:
“I pledge that I will reach out to someone I know who is struggling. I will let the person know I’m thinking about them. I will tell the person I’m available to talk.
I will take the initiative, and not wait for the person to come to me. I will listen to their story. If I do speak, I will have words of support and hope for the future.”
For more information about the New Canaan Parent Support Group, see http://ncparentsupportgroup.org.
May all beings everywhere, without exception, feel worthy of care and compassion from themselves and others, and may we all receive the care we need,
Your friends at CMP