People around the world commonly experience having their guts moved in response to other people’s life circumstances. These emotional responses include, sympathy (feeling for others) and empathy (feeling with others). Compassion includes being viscerally moved, but takes the nest step to respectfully work to meet the needs that it encounters.
It is common for parents to be moved by the needs of their children and to set their lives on hold in order to meet the genuine needs of their children. As such compassion is something that is hard-wired in us. And as with every other natural capability which humans possess, naming, understanding, and practicing these skills brings out qualities which will likely remain dormant or undeveloped if we do not.
In developing a basic, comprehensive approach to becoming more compassionate there are four areas to explore.
- The ways in which compassion is already a part of your life,
- The skills that are essential to the process of learning to be compassionate,
- The distractions that interfere with being compassionate, and,
- The genuine hindrances and road blocks that exist in practicing compassion.
None of this can be accomplished theoretically. Compassion is a skill. Learning to be compassionate is best done inductively and respectfully through: reflecting on the life experiences of those seeking to become more compassionate (preferably in a group setting), and planning and executing compassionate actions.
Working through the ways in which you are both compassionate and not so compassionate is an intensely intimate experience. However, we each explore compassion from our own standpoint. It is by visiting together about this that we are best able to recognize the benefits that our mutual practise of compassion holds for the communities where that sharing takes place and beyond.