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Each day when I sit in meditation, I work on aligning myself with the hearts of all those who are meditating in this moment. When I sit in silence and touch that place deep within, I try to tune into a universal consciousness that connects all of us. Feeling connection is the foundation for developing compassion. When we feel ourselves connected to everyone else as one being, there is no separation between us all.

Compassion is a muscle that needs exercising. It takes training.

We don’t want to harm others because we understand that they are really a part of us. When we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. Compassion allows us to open our hearts and reach into another part of ourselves. We imagine what it might be like to be someone else by feeling into all of the circumstances in their lives. Compassion is a muscle that needs exercising. It takes training. It requires that we step outside of ourselves and our prejudices, and our usual reactions to experience something in a different way.

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Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

I like to practice compassion when I’m driving. When someone does something that really gets me riled up, I will catch myself grumbling, even reacting (sometimes wanting to gesture).  I try to pause, take a deep breath and begin to imagine what it might be like to be so stressed that I would need to drive like that. I imagine all of the circumstances that could be affecting them. Maybe they had a terrible day. I can relate to that. I have hard days too. 
Maybe they are late for a funeral, or to pick up a small child. Or maybe they have just lost awareness and are driving while preoccupied. All of those things, I have done or could imagine myself doing. 
I then hold them in my heart and send them compassion and love. If my mind goes back to all the ways I am irritated and angry, I practice more light-hearted empathy until I feel myself shift and let it go. Rage and irritation are so seductive. The energy is addictive, and yet it hurts us. We are the ones who suffer.

When we turn our attention to compassion and understanding we can feel the love and support that is all around us and within us — and we can change our experience. It can be as difficult as training for a marathon, yet the rewards are a life filled with joy and a peaceful, healthy heart.

Where in your life could you benefit from practicing more compassion?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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