In meditation circles the word compassion is frequently used, principally I think because it is promoted strongly as a virtue acquired by people who practice faithfully with the intention of serving others. Compassion is more than empathy although they are often seen as interchangeable. This has come about as often in the West we interpret compassion in a static manner rather than as a way of acting compassionately towards others; and towards one self!
In essence, compassion is more than simply feeling for another – empathy – but a concerned, heartfelt caring, wanting to do something to relieve another’s suffering
Empathy allows us to see the kinship of self and others but compassion moves us to reach out to others; and to one self. After all it is difficult to love others if you don’t love yourself. When we have low self-esteem, self-hatred, or lack of self-respect, then we are in no position to love other people, to reach out compassionately.
Meditation is a way of self-cherishing and therefore an important way for us to cultivate compassion. To leave out the self in nurturing compassion is a drastic omission. Self-cherishing, setting one’s own well-being as a priority need not be in opposition to us holding a sincere concern for the welfare of others. The two are, or should be inseparable.
There’s a lovely hyphenated Buddhist word ‘loving-kindness, simply interpreted as loving yourself and loving others.
When meditation is practiced regularly, faithfully and with the right intention loving-kindness grows in our heart and compassion becomes our way of being.
And now let us meditate in the fashion that we are accustomed to.
You might like to dedicate your meditation to those that are affected by Covid-19 virus either through illness, bereavement or unemployment or some special intention of your own.
(Meditate for up to 20 minutes.)
As we go about our daily activities I hope that by being in the present, by remaining mindful we will find joy in the midst of this trial. Peter