For the People of Afghanistan and Those Still There Helping

Compassion is a little selfish, because more often than not it helps the practitioner more than the sufferer. That’s ok though, even when the subjects of suffering are experiencing darkness in life unimaginable to most. It’s ok because compassion is about recognizing that relieving suffering as work, serious business, as something more important than opinions, commentary, or analyses. So by responding to a global crisis by simply sitting and feeling compassion for the sufferers means you’re letting those who do the work of relieving suffering take center stage, with you in the background recognizing their suffering too.

I practice compassion for the people of Afghanistan and Those Still There Helping
With compassion, I free them from suffering
With compassion, I help them find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in their lives
With compassion, I inspire them to flourish

With patience and good humor, I welcome the imperfections of the people of Afghanistan and those still there helping
With sympathy, I feel for their suffering
With empathy, I mind what their feeling and try to understand why

For the people of Afghanistan and those still there helping, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective of them
I foster gratefulness for them
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of their lives

Peace, love and hope to those suffering in the eye of this global-political-storm, and thank you to those who have practiced with me.

For Myself and Others

Well that was a long while since I last published an exercise! Let’s jump back in with the base exercise. Ultimately the type and subject of the exercise are not as important as the key words in each line: compassion, contentment, peace, safety, flourish, suffering, empathy, wisdom. This let’s let these words jump out of each line and resonate through our internal experience:

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

Life has certainly changed and evolved for everybody since the last exercise was published, but the mission of compassion hasn’t. Thanks for practicing with me again😄

For that Presence that I Feel

You may have noticed a little trick I use in line six to get around having to use the possessive form of the noun for the recipient of compassion. When the noun is a long compound noun, the possessive form is a bit clunky and awkward. That’s certainly the case for that presence that I feel, and since I use no pronouns for this practice, there are even more lines where I have to get around using the possessive. If this is starting to sound more like an English lesson than a compassion lesson, know that by challenging are minds to reconsider and rewrite the particulars of the lines, we can keep their inherent meaning and feelings alive.

I practice compassion for the presence that I feel

With compassion, I free that presence from suffering
With compassion, I help that presence find peace and feel safe in this world
With compassion, I create contentment in the place where I connect with that presence
With compassion, I inspire that presence to flourish

With patience and good humour, I welcome the imperfections of that presence that I feel
With sympathy, I feel for the suffering felt in the place where I connect with that presence
With empathy, I mind what that presence is feeling and try to understand why

For that presence that I feel, I seek wisdom
I nurture a broad perspective
I foster gratefulness
And I acknowledge that suffering and difficulties are part of what’s felt in the place where I connect with that presence that I feel

This one is really wordy, so it’s not likely I would ever use it in a time when I need the practice for emotional support, or when I need a well memorized practice for quick recall. This practice is more for a busy mind that needs complexity. It gives it something to do while at the same refocusing the mind to the rather uncomplicated mission of relieving suffering, indiscriminately, wherever possible. Thank you for exploring this practice with me😄

Photo by Shiyu Zhang