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« The goal of our spiritual practice is to be able to understand, to be able to look without delusion at what is occurring in this life. In this intimate clear seeing, we are cultivating a resilience that opens our minds beyond beliefs that do not line up with reality.  Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion. Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion…is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.”  – Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

A compassion practice – 

First, make time and space, even if it is only 10 minutes to just be a sensing being everyday.   We can do it at the beginning or middle or end of our day.  Simply, sit, and feel the present moment unfolding in your body.  Whatever sensations arise, make space for them with your awareness. Meet sensations as they unfold.  Feel their multiple layers.  Feel their direct information. 

Second, try this practice of extending compassion towards yourself.

Bring to mind a close friend.  When they are in trouble and need your help, what do you do  for them.  Write down all the ways you support a friend in need.  Maybe you make time for them, make them tea, and listen to their story. Or do you ask them key questions like « What do you want from this situation?  What do you need from this situation? » Or maybe you simply hold space for them to be heard and held emotionally. 

Now, bring to mind how you take care of yourself when you are struggling.  Do you do these same things for yourself? If no, why? If yes, why? What insights does this exercise bring to you.  Next time you are struggling in sitting mediation or in life, can you use these insights to be a friend to yourself.

Notice how you feel after these practices: safer, more contented, more grounded, sensitive, embodied and loving. Let these inner shifts sink in again and again.

Be Metta and Be your source of joy and insight,
Allison