As summer begins to wind down, people begin to reflect on their goals, what they've accomplished, and what's left to do during these last four months of the year. This can lead to heavy expectations as well as a lack of compassion.
One of the biggest revelations for me when I was going through teacher training was how compassionate I was for others, but what a jerk I could be to myself. Self-compassion, especially when putting yourself out there, is crucial for evolution.
I’ve always believed the quality of your life depends on the questions you ask yourself. Want better results? Ask better questions.
Instead of thinking that others are intentionally trying to suck or sabotage you, what if you assumed that everyone around you, including yourself, was doing their best? It’s a pretty generous (and radical) act to assume the best about others.
When we meditate, we have greater access to the fundamental belief in Vedic worldview, which is that there is only one thing, consciousness, and we are it. We get to dip into that inexhaustible source of energy, that non-separateness, twice daily, and then bring a bit of that back into our waking state so that we can find more unity points. This helps us to stop defending our right to suffer and get on with the business of creating progressive change in ourselves.
One of the best ways to get out of suffering is to get present. What are you feeling, tasting, touching, smelling, hearing in that moment when you want to punch the barrista at your coffee place for not making that Pumpkin Spiced latte fast enough? Getting present allows us to access the present moment which breaks the cycle of ever-repeating stress thoughts.
The second part of diminishing suffering, I believe, is practicing compassion.
I love Brene Brown’s definition:
“Compassion is a deeply rooted belief that we’re connected to each other by something rooted in love and goodness.”
Right on! Empathy is the tool that allows us to connect to that fundamental belief that there’s only one thing and that we are it. But empathy only works if there’s boundaries in place for ourselves. This means we don’t have to take on someone else’s suffering in order to support them, nor do we need to give until we have nothing left.
One of the reasons we’re not good at setting boundaries is because care too much about what other people think, but according to Brene Brown, “Setting boundaries is the key to self-love and treating others with love and kindness as well.”
Meditation strengthens the pre-frontal cortex, which is where empathy is housed in the brain. That’s one of the reasons we can become more loving and kind with a regular practice, which allows us to exercise that radical generosity!