"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
We may have moments where we are acting out of compassion, but that does not make us compassionate by definition. To be compassionate one has to embody it and allow it to permeate one's existence. Compassion is unconditional and an absolute state of being. Embodying it means that one does not make any exceptions in where we direct your compassion; it is an absolute state of being. On my journey I have come to use compassion as an antidote to judgment; ask questions to connect with another person as opposed to making statements and assumptions. For us individually, compassion brings peace, acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude. Compassion is also the first pillar in "The Alchemy Experience" coaching ethos. The video below is an example of a person who embodies compassion and to him there was no other option than to forgive his son's killer.
We direct our practice towards ourselves, others and experiences we have. It is a daily practice we undertake, one stop at the time, until we embody it and our first reaction is compassion, it's no longer an afterthought. It is not the façade or the mask of a person, i.e. the person being projected into our physical existence, that we show compassion for, we direct it towards the essence of that being, the purity that existed when that person was born. It still exists inside everyone of us. The layers on top are the hurts and the trauma we have experienced. The technique of compassionate questioning that I use is to ask questions as to what has lead a person to act, think or speak the way they do, e.g. "I wonder what trauma he has experienced in his life that makes him feel justified to yell at me?". Compassionate questioning allows me to observe my own reaction to the experience and observe the other person from a higher perspective without being reactionary. It also allows me to connect with that person on a very deep level, beyond the external projection. We are retraining our cellular and subconscious memories to bring back our own pure essence and to peel off those layers of our own conditioning and programming.
Another essential tool I have found in my own practice is to meditate on compassion. Compassion, or Karuna, is one of the first and main practices of Buddhism. They will use the "Om Mani Padme Hum" (The jewel is in the Lotus) mantra to focus their compassion during meditation. Because one of the first places you start practicing compassion is towards yourself, sitting in meditation with the focus on compassion is extremely helpful to start this journey.
Compassion is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary, when we embody it we are fully aligned with our boundaries and dare to show up in our own vulnerabilities. Showing compassion does not mean that we need to accept the behaviours of others and let them steam roll us, it simply means we have an understanding of the suffering of others and accept their paths as their own and that we do not need to engage ourselves with theirs.
We find that shame, guilt, anger, bitterness, fear, etc. stand in our way to become compassionate and it is a challenge to work yourself through those layers. However, once we show compassion towards ourselves we are able to accept who we are and how we have arrived to where we are at and thus are able to forgive ourselves. This is how we overcome those obstacles. It is a choice and with that choice comes accountability and responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions.
As we progress, we can test ourselves. Try showing compassion towards someone that have done some horrible things, e.g. Hitler, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy, etc. We do not need to show compassion for the atrocities they committed, but to the inner child and true essence that must have suffered.
Now, go forth and be radical and create your own compassion revolution