The Gift of Compassion
“What is this Karma!” a client cried out last week. “I have suffered enough, Life is supposed to get better. It should be onto the good stuff by now, what is this karma?“ How do you have compassion for yourself when you are angry, frustrated, and nothing is going right?
When our world seems to be falling apart and uncomfortable, it is hard to recognize or accept that this is when we are growing and changing. The ever-expanding universe will send you opportunities to practice (consciously or unconsciously) what ever you would like/need to work on in this lifetime.
Sometimes it takes crumbling and chaos to crack us out of where we are. It was uncanny how my client’s circumstances were a reflection of my own. I could relate to her wail. I had tremendous compassion for her. I listened, I paid attention to her, and knew that I was getting a lesson. I also knew that the healing medicine was in our joint inner wisdom, and compassion was key.
My feeling for my client’s railing against her sense of the fate and the direction her life was taking led me to ask if she had any compassion for herself. Her response was a grumbly “What is compassion anyway!” Quietly and calmly I responded, “Compassion is the ability to be with someone as they are, not trying to fix what is but allowing what is present in the space to move.”
“Life is supposed to be . . .” and “Life should be . . .” are two statements that often get us into trouble. Reflecting these words back to her, and how they felt in her body, we began to explore how she could accept what is here now. Life is the way it is, and the way you live with what is, (not, “supposed to be” or “should be”) makes all the difference.
Noted religious scholar Karen Armstrong cites the Golden Rule as the embodiment of compassion Do to others what you would have them do to you.
So to have compassion for oneself requires you to “do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.” Or “do unto yourself as you would do unto others who would do unto you.” For me this entails being with others as they are. So I realized I had to be with myself as I was.
Being with ourselves is all very well when we are calm and happy and life is good. But it is equally important to be with our anger and to make room for our discontent. These are primal energies that require authentic responses.
Allowing unpleasant and uncomfortable energies to have their space and time to move through us consciously creates a healthy and balanced life. Acknowledging the existence of jealousy, resentment, and rage and letting them move through us in a healthy fashion so we can make new choices is part of their purpose for showing up.
We are meaning makers, in my client’s cry “What is this Karma?” I hear her asking “what is the meaning of this life I am living right now?” I perceivethe energy of her life asking her to become conscious and choose differently, to have compassion for herself.
This is what it is to be human. It is also what it is to be with the Divine that moves through us. Whether we believe it or not, one of our jobs is to show up, to be the vessel for the universal energy, Divine Spark, God, Spirit, Higher Power, Force (whatever you refer to as the energy that animates and makes life possible), to move through us. This takes practice.
Activating consciousness to the energy that is asking to move out of your life, is key. Sometimes we need help to do this. There are a myriad of ways to get help. A trusted friend, a minister, a gifted therapist, a movement class, an art class, no matter what modality, if you listen and be with you where you are, the answers will come to help move the energies through you.
Here are three steps how to begin to be with yourself as you are:
1 Stop – Take stock and acknowledge how you feel – can you name the emotion? Can you notice the sensations in your body? Where are they?
2 Ask what you have to learn? You can speak directly to the emotion. “Ok I am really angry, anger what do you need? What do you want me learn from you right now?
3 Wait, be witness to what will rise to the surface. You may get a message to go to a dance class, go see your therapist, to draw, a book may fall open with the exact passage that will shift your current state.
Scott Peck says in his book The Different Drum “The greatest gift we can give each other is our own woundedness.” This coming holiday season, with stresses and old family stories arising, sharing where you are with another empathic being will help you to understand “What is the Karma.” I wish you a sacred and blessed season filled with the gift of Compassion for yourself.
Nadine Saxton – MA, CMA, CRST