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

For Rob

I want to demo how pronouns work in this practice, because there is a design. Line one, five, and nine always use the actual noun representing the recipient of compassion, and the rest of the lines use pronouns where needed. This design is based on my own sense of rhythm in the lines, calibrated to what feels comfortable. For the practice presented yesterday, for that presence that I feel, I experimented with he, her, it, and bouncing around the three, but, for reasons that will be better explained later, I decided no pronoun system worked with what I was trying to do. Before returning to that practice, I’ll demo a practice for my brother Rob, to give a good demo of pronoun use in a regular practice:

I practice compassion for Rob

With compassion, I free him 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 Rob’s imperfections
With sympathy, I feel for his suffering
With empathy, I mind what he’s feeling and try to understand why

For Rob, 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

Thank you for practicing with me today. Try doing the same exercise, but for someone in your life😄

Photo by Shiyu Zhang