Thursday, November 12, 2009

A personal Charter of Compassion...

I have been teaching a Compassion Yoga Flow to children for a few weeks as part of the National Yoga Challenge in support of UnicefAnd when I ask the children if they know what compassion means (junior kindergarten through grade 5's) they never cease to amaze me with their answers- "kindness", "giving", "listening to our body".   What if we could all embody a spirit of kindness and giving every day?  What if we each committed to living a personal Charter of Compassion?  I think that alone would change the world! : )

On the eve of the unveiling of the global Charter of Compassion, I was reading an article by Karen Armstrong posted by a Facebook friend.  And in it, I was struck by her statement, "Compassion does not mean pity; it means to "experience with" the other. The golden rule, of always treating all others as you would wish to be treated yourself, lies at the heart of all morality.  It requires a principled, ethical and imaginative effort to put self-interest to one side and stand in somebody else's shoes."  And to conduct true dialogues with other people "with gentleness and without malice".

I reflect how in my own life, whenever I've 'dethroned' myself from the centre of my world : ), I have always felt expanded through understanding and accepting someone else.  I feel that all too often, our inability to really be present and hear others is simply a result of our own pain... we are 'crying out' to be heard or met in some way.  So our focus is on what we need or want.  Our interactions with others then, are most often based on our own projections and expectations.  What if when we related to others, we could shift the focus away from our own expectations, and simply seek to really understand and accept someone else?  And although it may seem contrary at first, this outward focus will really serve to create more peace in our own lives overall.

When we take an honest look at our lives, we'll notice patterns in our relationships.  These are our soul growth opportunities (and yes, we all have them : ).  For example, notice if there is a particular outcome like anger, frustration being expressed either by you or another person in a particular relationship context.  Then here is an opportunity, to step back and honestly look at how you are co-creating this experience.  Sometimes, we're so busy proclaiming "who we are, what we need and what we're doing in the world" that we don't really see how our behaviour is landing in relationship with others.  These declarations of self are of course, necessary and vital to our personal empowerment in the world.  But equally important is sensitivity to how we relate to others and the quality or harmony of experiences that we are creating with others.  If we're creating conflict or discord, then there is an opportunity to shift that experience into one of greater understanding, with awareness and compassion.

What if, when we interacted with others today, instead of projecting our own needs and expectations, we focused instead on seeking to understand and treating other people with the respect and acceptance that we desire?  This does not mean denying or suppressing our true feelings, but becoming more fully aware of what our intentions are when we relate to others.  Then, from this place of honesty with ourselves, we can practice accepting and understanding others.  By letting go of the focus on 'what I need', we will actually create more peace and harmony in our relationships, and within ourselves.  And actually receive more of what we truly want.  And fundamentally, we all want the same things - to be loved, valued, accepted, understood.

So today, friends, let's commit to our own personal Charter of Compassion!  Let us offer each other the very best of who we are, reflecting how we would like to be treated.  Then stand back : )... you'll be amazed at at what will flow to you!