October’s Theme: COMPASSION
“Where empathy meets the willingness to relieve someone else’s suffering.”
Since May, in intentional order, we’ve covered duality, trust, courage, giving a damn, and privilege.
With d u a l i t y, we learned that we can hold two things at the same time that may seem opposite - like anger and love. There wouldn’t be any anger if we didn’t care. Like joy and pain - we really can’t experience true joy if we don’t experience pain. Like stillness and action - there’s a time and a place for both and it ebbs and flows.
From there we talked about t r u s t. Trust that where there’s anger, there can also be love. Trust that pain doesn’t negate joy and that joy doesn’t negate pain and that both are necessary and that you are strong enough to experience both. Trust that there’s a time and a place to be still and be quiet - there’s also a time and a place to take action.
Next, c o u r a g e: Have the courage to be angry knowing that it’s rooted in love. Have the courage to experience joy and the courage to respect, and love, and allow the hurt and the pain. Have the courage to be still and listen and trust that we’re ok - also have the courage to take action even though there may be fear there… especially when there’s fear. In fact, it doesn’t take any courage to do anything unless there’s fear involved too (wow, hello duality).
So once you find the courage, you get to g i v e a d a m n… like, really give a damn. Look around you and see what’s happening in the world and listen to how other people may be experiencing it. Have the courage to care about that. And once you look around and see what’s happening, turn inward and see how you’re contributing to it all and benefitting from it all - that’s the privilege.
And p r i v i l e g e, when you have it, it’s often easy to ignore. You can be a good person and still have privilege. Trust that you have the capacity and strength to recognize your privilege. Have the courage to give a damn about the fact that you have it and about the people that don’t. Men don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, but they can still trust women when they have the courage to stand up and tell the world what it’s like. White people don’t know what it’s like to be in the world with black or brown skin, but we have the capacity to listen to people of color who have the courage to tell us what it’s like and believe them. And those of us who are able bodied, or straight, or cisgendered, etc. have the opportunity to recognize our privilege and respond with trust, love, and kindness, and give a damn about those without our same privileges who may courageously choose to trust us enough to share their experiences… we all have some kind of privilege and recognizing that is a strength, never a weakness.
And so what now?
Now you get to move forward with c o m p a s s i o n. Compassion is like a muscle - just like courage and your glutes - you have to practice it. You’ll fail sometimes. You’ll pick the wrong battles sometimes. You’ll say the wrong thing sometimes. You’ll be trying to do good and you’ll actually cause harm. You’ll try to help but you’ll actually get in the way. But what’s important is that you’re practicing and listening and growing and doing better the next time. The saying, “practice makes perfect” isn’t true. Perfection isn’t real. What a relief. We can stop striving for that. Compassion is where empathy meets the willingness to relieve someone else’s suffering. Compassion is when you see someone getting hurt by someone else and instead of feeling bad for them (sympathy) or feeling what that feels like (empathy), perhaps you intervene and help remove that person from the situation, or you stop the person who is causing harm… you do something to relieve the pain of the person who is being harmed. Perhaps you ask that person “how are you?” and instead of trying to “fix” anything for them, you simply listen with complete presence. You listen to understand them - often the pain is feeling misunderstood, unseen, unheard. Maybe you can be the person who takes the time to understand, to see, and to hear - that is often the most compassionate thing we can do for each other.
To me, Jess Dinisco is a friend, mentor, friend, teacher, supporter, discomfort holder, friend, and joy creator. To the world, she’s the same. She’s also a mindfulness teacher, a PhD student, and a yoga teacher. You can learn from her all around town at places like Steadfast and True Yoga, Wild Heart Meditation Center, and Shakti Power Yoga.
This is a talk she gave at Wild Heart Meditation Center on Self Compassion. It’s 28 minutes long and worth every deep breath.