Several years ago I made a conscious decision to grow. Not a garden full of tomatoes, or my bank account, or my hair. The focus has been on one very specific muscle, which really isn’t a muscle at all, but I like to think of it that way. Compassion. It’s right next to the heart muscle. Not really. But for argument’s sake, let’s say it is. I want to grow this in a big way. I want it to be so large I’ll have to give it a name and buy it a wardrobe.
The rewarding effects of my ever-growing compassion muscle are seen everywhere in my life. It’s an exponential experience. The more I am compassionate, the more compassion I see in action. It’s paid forward over and over and over until it inevitably circles back to me. It truly is one of those things where you receive more than you give. This is the beautiful paradox of the compassionate heart and its self-perpetuating nature.
There are many ways to grow your compassionate heart.
Start with being kind. Make this your ‘go to’ virtue in every situation. Ask yourself, if I say this or do that, what affect will it have? Not just on others, but on yourself. What’s the trickle-down effect? The pebble skipping across the water? The ripple in the still pond? The echo across the canyon?
How you treat others matters. Not just in small or imperceptible ways either, but also the universal, the colossal, and the cosmic. For we are not islands. We are all connected so it is imperative that we cause no harm. Instead we must do our best to foster big-heartedness and benevolence.
Imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes. Walk a mile in their moccasins or sneakers or stilettos. While on this journey of a thousand miles, seek understanding and refrain from judgment. Express genuine concern for those you encounter on the path. Cultivate a magnanimous spirit. Even towards those who seem impossible to love or unworthy. Herein lies our greatest workout for we get to exercise our tenderness and tolerance.
Compassion and loving-kindness are the heart and soul’s great healers. Not just for ourselves, and our front-row relationships, but for the healing of the planet and all sentient beings that share it with us.