Vaccine for compassion?

Good morning, dear readers. It’s 5:44 a.m. here in the dark woods. No need to kindle a fire in the woodstove this morning–temperatures promise to bless us with Indian summer for the next five days (60 degrees F, 15 degrees C, and some days even higher.) Snow has all melted into memory!

I want to talk about compassion this morning. About the vital importance of compassion in our imperfect lives.

Many folks think compassion is an external act first. You extend it outward toward friends, neighbors, family. It’s a quality that–hopefully–we share with the world. That may be so with many of us.

But it seems utterly important that we need to start with compassion for ourselves, too. For not endlessly beating ourselves up when we mess up. For forgiving ourselves day after day. For allowing our imperfect humanity to exist within.

For most of my life I have struggled with self-compassion at times. It has always felt like I am here on this planet to learn to love and do the will of the Holy. And it has often felt like I fall short, over and over again. I used to beat myself up on a regular basis with this heart yearning to “do right” and live a life my soul would desire.

A couple of years ago I took an online class with a remarkable spiritual teacher, Jeannie Zandi. She experienced a “dark night of the soul” for more than four years before her heart opened to a very inclusive experience of universal love.

Jeannie showed that it’s possible to truly have compassion for all the different, dark, unconscious, screwed up, miserable, despairing, confused parts of our human selves. To learn to meet them with compassion and say, “Hello there, little ones” and truly listen instead of condemning them.

These days it’s much easier to simply allow it all to be, to feel compassion for the ways I didn’t succeed according to the heart’s desire, to say “Hello, human” instead of beating myself up.

This then naturally leads to compassion overflowing outward into others–family, friends, strangers, the world. It’s a compassion that radiates outward. It goes out and out and out because it starts here first.

OK, you vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, those of us who might take a vaccine for compassion, and those of you reacting in horror at the idea–it’s a joke. I sit here in the dark house in the mornings here in the woods thinking of blog titles that might intrigue a reader to pause and ponder compassion. This one popped into my mind and made me laugh out loud.

Can you fathom a world where we were all vaccinated for compassion? What a different place this world might be. But I believe the whole point of our earth-venture is to learn to naturally develop compassion. To keep trying. To learn to transform the viruses of fear and suffering that keep coming toward and within us. To meet them with equanimity, or at least a soft “hello darkness my old friend.”

In the meantime–let’s be kind to ourselves. Super kind. Amazingly kind. And then watch that spread its immunity out into the herd who is our brother and sister. (And for those times when we can’t be kind to others in thoughts, words or actions–let’s be compassionate toward ourselves and simply vow to do better next time.)

Day 19 of a seventy-five day journey to connect more deeply with God, Spirit, Holy, Love…to explore “What the Heart Knows” during the waning days of 2020.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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23 Responses to Vaccine for compassion?

  1. When you write about not endlessly beating ourselves up when we mess up it makes me think of the following quote, because I think self-reproach blocks self-compassion, which in turn keeps us from having tender feelings for our fellow humans. It’s no wonder we’re so tired and worn out. Thanks so much for the encouraging thoughts, Kathy.

    “The release of reproach enables the universal motion of vitality to flow again. Like a long-dammed-up tide, vitality sweeps toward the arid shores of the soul with compassionate moisture, bringing life into perspective and rhythm once more.” ~ Caitlín Matthews

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for sharing Caitlin’s quote, Barbara. I so appreciate it. And agree about how beating ourselves up prevents us from truly feeling compassion for others. May a match of compassion light within all of us.

  2. Ally Bean says:

    Clever title, clever idea. Compassion is an inside job, true dat. I’ve found that as I’ve grown older I’m more inclined to forgive myself for my transgressions and to understand why other people behave like they do. We live, we learn– if we pay attention.

    • Kathy says:

      Well it SEEMED like a clever title at 5:30 in the morning, ha ha! I love that we can learn these things as we grow older. May we continue to pay attention and have more compassion for ourselves and others. Thank you, Ally.

  3. Larissa says:

    Oh, if only there were a vaccine! I have a vague memory of reading that the Dalai Lama said if the benefits of meditation were available in pill form, he would recommend that people take the pill instead of doing the work of meditation. But there’s no pill or vaccine, so we have to practice, practice, practice!

    I went looking for that interview with the Dalai Lama, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe it was a dream! Instead, I found this quote from His Holiness: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

    • Kathy says:

      Larissa, I am glad that you remember the Dalai Lama saying that. Darn that there’s no pill or vaccine. Except what would we learn if there were? Practice compassion…to all our parts…and then maybe it will spiral out to others, too. xoxo

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Great look at compassion to both self and others. I smiled the way you addressed vaccines, but thought how many will make decisions based on selfishness. I recall a handbell piece titled Compassion. Wonderful, moving piece of music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO_Mh2xVoig

    • Kathy says:

      Frank, I have opened a new tab and am listening to the handbell choir. Real stirring. Do either you or your wife play them? You seem to be a person who loves music so much. (and glad you enjoyed this piece on compassion.)

  5. Debbie says:

    It seems to me that, if we can’t love and forgive ourselves for our humanity, then it’s next to impossible to forgive others. Perhaps we all need a hearty dose of kindness … both for inside ourselves and to extend to others. I imagine something like that would multiply, not divide. An intriguing post, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, thank you for your kind words. I am also imagining this would increase and not create more division. A hearty dose of kindness to all…

  6. Stacy says:

    This is something I’ve been reading about over and over in my book of devotions this year. We get discouraged by our shortcomings and flaws, but that only serves to distance us from the Holy. Yes, Kathy, we must show ourselves compassion first. That is the Holy at work within us. XOXO

  7. I love how tender this is. I just want to give you a hug. I agree, over and over. We cannot give what we do not have. And this world definitely needs more kindness. Now more than ever.

  8. A thing to note is that even Indian summers dont last all year long. Therefore, now it’s cold here in India. 😁

  9. sherrysescape says:

    Thank-you for your words. I needed the reminder to be compassionate towards myself, now more than ever.

    • Kathy says:

      That is so important, Sherry, that we keep feeding ourselves compassion day in and day out, especially in these challenging times. I was up at the hospital yesterday and hoped to see you, but alas, only here on the blog… Which is good enough for me! 🙂

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