Quote of the Week: Compassion

SelfCompassion

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” 

-Jack Kornfield-

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been taking a Buddhist meditation class focused on the Brahma Viharas, or the four divine abodes. The first two weeks were dedicated to the first Brahma Vihara, Metta or lovingkindness (which I’ve spoken about). This past week and next, we focus on Karuṇā, or Compassion, the second divine abode. You may be wondering about the difference between the two, but I will save that for a later post.

We must remember that if we are to give compassion to others, we must first be compassionate with ourselves. Today, I urge you to take a moment, notice your breath, and search your depths. Is there anything about yourself–a failure, an insecurity, a bad habit, a negative emotion–for which you are very hard on yourself? When you find that thing, say the following words. I will use ‘anger’ for the example, but insert your own hang-up:

I see my anger. I care about my anger. I desire an end to my anger. May I hold my anger with tenderness. 

As with the Metta practice, you do not need to force the words. Simply speak or think them and see what arises. You may be surprised.

May you hold your suffering with tenderness and care.

By Terence Stone

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Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.

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  • I couldn’t agree more with this. I’ve heard the same excuse so many times when it comes to meditation, I simply don’t have time. An answer like this is so damaging to the person who spoke it. Every human should have enough time to take care of their own health, in the long run, it will make you a happier, more productive person who radiates positive energy.

    • Thanks for reading, and well said. Yes, when we focus on ourselves in a positive manner, we are so much more likely to interact with others in the same way.

  • Kathy

    I literally started crying when I read, “Is there anything about yourself… for which you are very hard on yourself?” As if it should be a challenge to find something. I had an instant of painful realization that I am so hard on myself about literally everything about myself, my entire bloody existence, and the tears just poured down my face. When I tried to think of one thing to focus on, I picked “despair”, because I am so hard on myself for being so incredibly miserable. But then I tried it… “I see my despair. I care about my despair. I desire an end to my despair. May I hold my despair with tenderness.” And it softened. I softened. I am so lacking in compassion for myself, even though I seem able to feel it for others. So thank you for this post and for the gentle reminder to hold my suffering with tenderness and care, just as I would another’s suffering.

    • You are very welcome, Kathy. I’m glad my words instigated an opening and softening within you. Remember, too, that your suffering, your despair, is not who you are. We all identify with our pain as if it were some inseparable thing. It is not so. Your true self is the observer, the one who says “may I hold my suffering with tenderness.” Pain feeds on pain. When you show the pain an inkling of compassion, it recedes.

      May you hold your despair with tenderness and presence. May you be free from suffering. Wishing you the best.