On Compassion


Procrastinating productively today…

Listening to a recording of Christopher Germer on compassion right now. Germer is a clinical psychologist interested in compassion as it relates to mindfulness and psychotherapy. He states research finds a greater link between self-compassion and happiness than between mindfulness and happiness. He says self-compassion is not a strategy to make pain go way, but rather something we give ourselves because we hurt. You can check out his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion or Sharon Salzberg’s book Lovingkindness for more on the subject.

Some definitions of compassion:

  • Bearing witness to your own suffering and responding with kindness and understanding
  • The fluttering of the heart in the face of another being
  • The point is not to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are already (Pema Chodron)
  • We stop fixing and start caring
  • We stop harming ourselves

It is not:

  • bypassing – it is opening to pain more fully
  • sugarcoating
  • complacent
  • pity partying
  • selfish – it is the foundation for loving others
  • exhausting
  • harming
I really like this excerpt of a poem Germer cited called Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye:
Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
I am very interested in this topic, I think because of my experience of feeling there is something missing from pure mindfulness practice or insight meditation. I think this might be it. Stay tuned…more to come.
Can you find one way to be kind to yourself today?

About Cynthia Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a personal coach and licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who teaches mindfulness meditation for beginners.
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One Response to On Compassion

  1. Pingback: Meditation therapy? | mind|body|spirit academy

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