Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Welcome back to our Co-Creative Mandalas blog!
Each month, we share insights, inspiration, and all the ways the cycles of the Great Mandala uplift and support you. We draw upon the metaphors and messages of each season to explore and celebrate our individual and collective journeys toward Freedom.
The Co-Creative Mandalas have a vibration that represents something about the natural world and the energy in the universe at this current time.
This month's mandala is Compassion
I hope this finds you in a place of joy and well-being.
As fall nears, the desire to turn inward and explore our spiritual depths grows. We're in the liminal space between summer ending and fall beginning. It's a "not quite" space...summer is not quite over and fall has not quite arrived. Yet, like me, you may feel the change nature, in the air, in the shadows and light, and in the energy that is emerging now as we move into the end of the growing season and into the upcoming harvest.
You may also notice the profound shifts in the energies around you--in the world. The planetary challenges we face are unprecedented, but within these trials lie opportunities for profound spiritual growth.
Many of us are sensing that the vibration of the planet is rising and with it apparent chaos (for many) and an invitation (for everyone) to perceive ourselves, our lives, each other, and the world in completely new ways. Opportunities for learning and transformation are nestled within every crisis.
Like many people, I believe there's something truly exceptional unfolding, and I love sharing this transformative journey with you.
Just as the rhythms of nature shift, this is a planetary and personal "liminal space"...a not quite space...between old patterns and beliefs and new ways of thinking and being. This is called a ‘bardo’ - in Tibetan culture, a transitional time when something is dissolving and what will be is not yet clear.
If there’s ever been a time for us to explore how to deepen our compassion toward ourselves and each other, this is it.
When we accept ourselves as we are and we accept others as they are, we can look at ourselves and others with the eyes of compassion.
Thich Nhat Hanh
When you understand the transformative, healing power of compassion, you can dramatically shift the experiences of your life, the people in it, and the world itself.
Developing compassion helps us navigate and respond with loving kindness, rather than react along our same rigid patterns of thought. When you break free from your well-worn stories, you are able to respond with greater compassion. Compassion is a deeper kindness, a stabilizing that you can carry into all parts of your life.
One of the most beautiful things about compassion is that anyone can develop it. Anyone can nurture a practice that helps them connect more meaningfully with others, take time for themselves, and widen their sense of their purpose.
Compassion warms our awareness with qualities of tenderness, care, and connection. It also contains some of the qualities we've explored so far including Inspiration, Equanimity, and Generosity.
Standford Medicine, The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education provides further insight into how compassion is defined by various sources. Common threads that run through the different definitions include recognizing suffering, feeling empathy, and taking action to alleviate the suffering.
Although compassion, empathy, and sympathy are related, they are distinctly different. Sara Schairer describes the differences between empathy (feeling the suffering or positive emotions of others) and sympathy (understanding why someone suffers, i.e., feels grief).
She goes on to explain that compassion "takes empathy and sympathy a step further". When you see suffering you may feel either or both empathy and sympathy. Those emotions are followed by a wish to see suffering end, and then by actions toward helping to relieve the suffering.
Unlike pity, when we see ourselves and others as victims of circumstances, compassion has its basis in awareness of the suffering combined with the heartfelt desire to alleviate the suffering, followed by action. When love meets pain it becomes compassion. Jack Kornfield
Compassion fosters emotional and spiritual freedom, for ourselves, each other, and all beings.
If you want others to be happy,
If you want to be happy,
The Dalai Lama
The Art of Happiness
In Western culture, compassion is mainly focused on alleviating the suffering of others. While this perspective is one that brings compassion to many, in Buddhist traditions, "it is considered equally important to offer compassion to the self". Without compassion AND self-compassion we lose sight of our interconnectedness.
Self-compassion, as distinct from compassion for others, involves treating ourselves kindly, as good friends we care about. Rather than continually judging and evaluating ourselves, self-compassion generates kindness toward ourselves along with learning to be present with the struggles of life. It helps us develop greater resilience when times are challenging. It motivates us to offer support to ourselves not because we’re victims, worthless or inadequate, but because we care about ourselves.
Christopher Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He co-developed the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program with Dr. Kristin Neff in 2010. This program has been taught to over 200,000 people worldwide. In an recent interview he said We're not alone, even if we may feel that way some times. Everyone is experiencing the human condition. We're all in this together...to thrive, grow, and evolve. I believe that's our purpose, that's what we're here for, to experience inner and outer Freedom; not to stay stuck.
Offering self-compassion rather than criticism, giving support in difficult moments, is an act of self-love that helps us handle distress with greater ease and lessens our suffering.
When you make a commitment to your evolution of consciousness, even in the midst of obstacles, self-compassion helps you live in accord with your core values even when challenging conditions pull you away from remembering and believing in your Wholeness.
Every act of compassion and self-compassion makes a difference.
Acts of compassion can be simple. Have you ever slowed down during your busy day to help someone without expecting anything in return? Or perhaps, there were moments when you treated yourself kindly instead of beating yourself up for making a mistake?
A prayerful thought, an uplifting Facebook post, or simple blessing can make a powerful difference in someone’s life. Other times, we may take more direct action by listening to someone deeply as they share the concerns of their heart, or volunteering to drive them somewhere or complete errands for them.
On a global scale, you may choose to check out organizations like Charter for Compassion. This grassroots organization extends compassion around the world through programs, initiatives, and education.
Whatever form your compassionate actions take, as a member of the human family, when you see suffering you are inspired and motivated to be of sacred service, to help however you can and bring love and care to others and to yourself.
Giving compassion and receiving it might well be two sides of the same coin. It's a perpetual circle— we show compassion to others, and in return, we feel appreciated and happy, leading us to be more compassionate, hence creating an upward spiral. In the process, we also learn to be compassionate towards ourselves. Remember, it's important to give to yourself what you work to give others.
Is compassion a superpower--"an essential spiritual quality that allows us to feel connected with all life and helps us to work for the common good"? I believe the answer is Absolutely! When we draw our attention to the best examples of compassion for self and others, we witness the type of power that truly enriches lives and cultivates a strong emotional and spiritual foundation.
So, are you ready to harness the power of compassion and witness the profound changes it can bring in your life? Remember, demonstrating compassion isn't only about undertaking grand gestures; it's about those little acts of kindness towards self and others that we infuse in our daily routine that make a difference in our lives and in the world.
I invite you to embrace compassion for yourself and others today and step into a future filled with emotional strength, spiritual freedom, and a connected universe.
This Co-Creative Mandala, "Compassion" from a photo of dahlias (symbolizes grace and inner strength) is associated with the root, heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras. It reminds us that one person can make a difference. When we remember our wholeness, we remember that each of us is doing the best we can. Even the smallest gesture can be the spark that ignites our inner light to shine brighter.
I shine when I am kind, warmhearted, and show compassion to myself and others. I shine my brightest when I use my unique talents to help make the world a better place.