By Melody Lima
As a yogi, when contemplating compassion I instantly hear the definition of ahimsa—non-violence in the present moment toward all beings.
Recently, I have been exploring a more community driven definition of compassion, something less personal and bigger than individual. This definition includes agreeing to disagree, letting it go, having patience, living in your personal truth and moving forward into the future with fear or hatred.
Compassion is a practice similar to asana, pranayama and meditation. We can improve the shapes we put our physical body into for optimum health and functionality. We can improve our breathing patterns for energy, peace, stamina and longevity. We can improve our thoughts and perspectives for more mindfulness toward ourselves, everyone and everything.
The practice of compassion off the mat is not perfect; it is a process of focused concentration with many twists and turns. How we respond becomes the practice. What we think, what we say and what we do expresses to others the true nature of our hearts towards others.
A Loving Kindness Meditation is a great tool for this practice of compassion.
May All Beings Be Happy
May All Beings Be Healthy
May All Beings Be Safe
May All Beings Be Living with Ease
Sometimes the collective energy provides and supports our practices of meditation. Sometimes we must participate with a clear intention as we seek support. We must cultivate compassion in our thoughts, words and actions without blame, name calling or ignorance.
The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love.
What seeds will you plant there?
In our thoughts we can hold positive and caring affirmations and prayers to all who support us and who challenge us. In our words we can be kind, uplifting and non-judgmental as we communicate our concerns, confusions, victories and celebrations. In our actions we can thrive, from the heart each day as we participate in our lives as we move into the future. We can demonstrate to our children, communities and beyond how we choose love, compassion and kindness with every step along the path.
Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge.
For this yogi and writer, compassion is a practice of listening, holding safe space for others, eating more veggies and moving in nature with the seasonal elements as my partner. It is watching the world through the eyes of my teenage daughter who sees the core of every situation life offers her and faces it head on. It is remembering my foremothers and all they taught me, for they paved my path with love, kindness and compassion every day.
Some days are challenging, ugly, hard and filled with uncertainty and bewilderment. Those days inspire hiding away from the chaos, with a good movie and bag of chips, in the hope you will not get sucked into an argument that is lose/lose for all sharing their opinions a bit too aggressively.
Compassion is a daily practice that inspires joy, love and sometimes confusion and fear. It is not perfect.
Editor: Dana Gornall