Directing Compassion

by Stuart Bryson ~ guest blogger

Here’s a practice you can use to immediately increase your sense of wellbeing. This is a simple but powerful exercise.

When you see a stranger, send out feelings of compassion to that person. Breathe deeply and imagine the sense of peace and self acceptance that you would like that person to feel at that moment.

Start out with someone you don’t know, a random person. Do it with someone who doesn’t notice you. Driving in traffic a good place to start this exercise. Try it at a red light.

It can be especially helpful to direct your feelings towards someone who seems unhappy, angry or frustrated. Your clue may be the person’s demeanor, speech or behavior. Notice the tangible material elements that currently represent that person to the external world. It may help to imagine possible underlying situations that may have triggered a sense of lack of control in this person underlies these harmful emotions.

If you pay attention, you will notice that in a just a few seconds you have already made a number of judgments about that person. This is normal. Go past those judgments and feelings, just let them go for now.

Reach down into your core for empathy and a sense of peace. Pull this sense up from your heart and gut with your breath. Imagine peace and empathy radiating from your body into your immediate surroundings and to that individual. If the person seems unhappy, angry, stressed out or miserable in another way, imagine what it feels like to be him or her.

Acknowledge on a gut level that the person’s situation or beliefs may be different, but the struggle with lack of control or difficulty acceptance of a situation you well know.

You may find resistance here, depending on your state of being at that moment. You will recognize that in order to direct a sense of ease and acceptance toward that person, you must first find it in yourself. If you are feeling frustrated, angry, or that you are judging yourself, these feelings may suddenly become clear in this moment and you will encounter difficulty. Be gentle with yourself. This exercise can be challenging. Muster as much compassion as you can at that moment, for yourself and for that person.

 

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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