“Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.” — Duane Elgin
Do you believe compassion is our true nature? I contend we are familiar with compassion by virtue of feeding, clothing and tending to our own needs. Compassion is extending these qualities to others and recognising the same humanity is alive within us. Compassion is the recognition of our shared togetherness as sentient beings. Knowing we are connected through consciousness, we walk this journey together unified with our hearts and minds. We feel one another’s pain and share their joy because what we feel within is also active in others.
Psychologist Rick Hanson explains in Resilient: 12 Tools For Transforming Everyday Experiences Into Lasting Happiness that compassion is activated the more we engage it: “The key to growing any psychological resource, including compassion, is to have repeated experiences of it that get turned into lasting changes in neural structure or function. It’s like recording a song on an old-fashioned tape recorder: as the song plays — as you experience the resource — you can help it leave a physical trace behind in your nervous system.”
To awaken compassion is to give and receive love. It is a heart-centred focus of reaching out to a fellow human being and sharing kindness and empathy. I recognise my sacredness and acknowledge this presence within you. True refuge denotes coming home to your heart and touching the oneness of your being. Compassion and finding refuge within your heart are soulmates coexisting in a sea of unity; a marriage bonded through devotedness.
“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.” — Proverb
To awaken compassion requires moving our awareness into our heart. I wrote in an earlier article How To Discover The Language Of Your Heart and outlined ways to discern this language. If we are absorbed in our thoughts, we are at the mercy of succumbing to them and creating stress. Thoughts can become volatile if we don’t understand their function. This requires self-understanding to recognise we are not our thoughts but the receiver of the thoughts. I’m not suggesting we ignore our thoughts, I’m proposing we understand their mechanism in order to better navigate life. Are you comfortable with this idea of connecting with your heart and mind instead of the narrative dictated by your thoughts?
If we wish to awaken compassion, we must develop a two-way communication with our heart. If we are unable to recognise the stirring of our heart, we miss out on perceiving its consciousness. Finding refuge within our heart is like returning home after being abroad for years. We are drawn to the familiarity and the sense of love; the freedom of being ourselves. This feeling is experienced by those in romantic relationships who speak of the togetherness shared by one another; a returning home when in the company of their beloved. What they’re really experiencing is coming home to themselves. The other person awakens the love within their own heart, resonated back through heart coherence.
We awaken compassion in the same way we express kindness to our fellow beings. A practice I perform often is to send thoughts of love and kindness to complete strangers when I’m walking in my city. I silently affirm to myself as a person passes me in the street: “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you live with ease.” I feel peaceful and any thoughts of anger, hostility or fear are washed away because a mind at peace cannot be at war with itself. I awaken compassion when I send loving thoughts to others because what I wish for them must be first experienced within me. To send love to another person, I must have the seed of that emotion present within me. I am merely awakening its presence.
True refuge is a heartfelt purity of love. To come home to ourselves means awakening our soul nature so what is sent forth is returned in full measure. Consider the message from author Matt Kahn who writes in Whatever Arises, Love That: A Love Revolution That Begins with You of the need to foster an open-hearted dialogue with oneself: “An open heart is the end result of providing the kindness, care, support, and attention that only you were designed to offer yourself.”
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want to experience more love and compassion in your life, try the exercise I outlined earlier for 30 days and note how you feel. Send kind and loving thoughts to complete strangers and wish them well. Even while you are sending others loving thoughts, you are simultaneously awakening love and compassion within you. You are priming your mind and opening your heart to compassion as the seeds of love. As you create a sanctuary for love to reside, you stir these emotions within you. Similarly, if you find yourself judging or criticising yourself or others, stop and move into your heart and notice what is taking place. I liken the mind to a Tesla car set on autopilot driving on a freeway. To regain control of the vehicle requires holding the steering wheel to disable the autopilot. Is this something you are willing to try, even for a month? I assure you, it will be worth your time and effort.
I invite you to do the same when you move into your heart. Take control by directing the flow of kindness and compassion and don’t allow the mind’s autopilot to seize control. It is difficult for the mind to overpower this union if you are committed to honouring the intention of a loving kindness dialogue. Your heart is an amazing faculty, capable of perceiving information well before the mind can make sense of it, according to the HeartMath Institute The heart senses long before reason takes hold. To awaken compassion is to develop a shared relationship with your heart, so you are giving and receiving love. True refuge involves uniting with the oneness of your soul, so the love permeates throughout your entire being.
Originally published at medium.com