Sunday, December 28th, 2008
The state where I live in Brazil, Santa Catarina, has been affected by a major flood. For months it rained non-stop and entire families found themselves homeless or with loved ones missing or dead. The outpouring of compassion and help from Brazilians has been immense and touching. The area has been rebuilding and its people are encouraged to start again with the help of its fellow Brazilians.
Everyone naturally wants to give, everyone wants to serve. It is a natural law of the universe and of many spiritual traditions that receiving is inherent in giving. We don’t need to wait to major catastrophic events to be compassionate and giving. All we need to do is to be aware of situations that would allow for us to give, serve and be compassionate.
Compassion can be practiced anywhere: At airports, on beaches or in shops, and most importantly, in our own homes toward the ones we love the most. Basically, whenever we are together with other people we can bring compassion to action. Try this five-step exercise around friends and strangers. Do it discreetly and try to do all the steps with the same person.
With your attention geared to the other person, tell yourself:
- Step 1 – “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life”
- Step 2 – “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life”
- Step 3 – “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair”
- Step 4 – “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs”
- Step 5 – “Just like me, this person is learning about life”
(Source for this exercise: Resurfacing: Techiniques for Exploring Consciousness by Harry Palmer.)
The idea is to make compassion a habit. The other idea behind this is that the more you become compassionate toward others, the more you will also become compassionate toward yourself. You can also begin by having compassion toward yourself and that will extend toward others as well.
Make it a compassion driven year!