Spiritual Exercises – Compassion

Option 1) Be Compassionate to You!

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” That was written by Buddhist writer and teacher, Jack Kornfield.  He also wrote this: “Sometimes a firm “no” or “I can’t” or “I won’t allow that; it is beyond my limit” is the most spiritual and compassionate thing we can say.” Compassion toward others doesn’t last if it isn’t built upon compassion for yourself.

This month, find your self-compassion and take action to express it.

This is not simply about being nice to or pampering your self.  As with compassion for others, compassion for your self begins with a clear recognition of pain and then moves from there to an act that strives to relieve that pain.

Maybe that means forgiving yourself.  Or finding a way to say, “I’m ok the way I am.” Or finding a way to stop comparing yourself to others.  Maybe you need to say “no” when you are stretched to the limit. Or making amends for a wrong that sits deep in your heart. Or maybe you just need a little self-indulgence – a good piece of cake or a massage.

Whatever it is: figure out where your pain is, decide what you need to address it and then do at least one compassionate act for yourself.

Option 2)  Compassion Collage

If you are feeling creative, make a Compassion Collage. Gather pictures of people, places, and things for which you feel compassion. You may take photos yourself, cut them out of magazines and newspapers, copy them from books, or find them in the direct mail appeals from service organizations. Look for strong pictures to which you have an emotional response, no matter how painful. Include examples of the suffering of animals, nature, and things. Add words or symbols to represent others areas of concern — “Earthquake” to remind you to feel compassion for victims of natural disasters, “Incest” to recall those suffering from sexual abuse, “Prison” for political prisoners and those who have committed crimes, “Garbage” to note the suffering caused by wasteful consumption.

Leave one area of your collage blank for what has not yet touched your compassionate heart. Keep your collage in a place where you can contemplate it at least once every day. One or more images may become the focus of prayer or meditation.  Share your experience of creatively interacting with compassion in your theme group.
From Spirituality & Practice.com

Option 3) Guerilla Compassion

Buddhist master Sharon Salzberg suggests that compassion is the natural response of clear seeing or understanding.  Compassion grows with the understanding of the interconectedness of all beings.

This month build understanding by quietly directing your compassion at the people you meet – people in line at the bank, at the supermarket, in the cars next to you in traffic, the people sitting beside you on Sunday. To each one silently offer up the words from the loving kindness meditation “May you be happy. May you be at peace.” Include strangers, service people, and friends in your thoughts of compassion.

Spend this month being aware of the people around you and offer them your quiet compassion.  “May you be happy. May you be at peace.” How did this practice make you feel?  Did it change how you interacted with people?

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