For my Emotional-Self

In meditation, we often practice separating our viewpoint from our thoughts and emotions. This compassion practice can help. The goal of meditation could be phrased: to see the emotional-self or the thinking-self and feel compassion. For today, we’ll practice compassion for the emotional-self, strengthening our capacity for observing, without judgement, the natural ups and downs of feeling:

I practice compassion for my emotional-self

With compassion, I free my emotional-self from suffering
With compassion, I help him find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in his life
With compassion, I inspire him to flourish

With patience and good humour, I welcome my emotional-self’s imperfections
With sympathy, I feel for his suffering
With empathy, I mind what he’s feeling and try to understand why

For my emotional-self, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective of him
I foster gratefulness for him
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of his life

This practice is deeply internal and self-referential, which can feel a bit weird. But the mind is constantly examining the self, so it’s important to consider how we react to the never-ending self-regulating analysis the mind is naturally committed to. Most importantly, we must respond compassionately, seeking to witness resistance, judgement and criticism from ourselves towards ourselves, and replace those habits with compassion. Thank you for practicing with me.

Photo by Shiyu Zhang

For Myself and Others

We adapt this compassion practice to different scenarios by changing who the practice is for. Sometimes we even change the practitioner, like with the compassion-animal practice. What remains constant are the verbs. In this base practice, take special note of the verb for each line:

I practice compassion

With compassion, I free myself and others from suffering
With compassion, I help myself and others find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in this life
With compassion, I inspire myself and others to flourish

With patience and good humour, I welcome people’s imperfections, and with patience and good humour, I welcome my own imperfections
With sympathy, I feel for those who suffer, myself included
With empathy, I mind what others are feeling and try to understand why, and I mind what I’m feeling and try to understand why

I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective
I foster gratefulness
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of life

Long ago the practice contained a much smaller range of verbs, but I saw this and decided to select a unique verb for each line. Now, by design, the practice helps us remember the full range of skills and actions that the mission of compassion entails.

Photo by Shiyu Zhang