Practicing Compassion

Love and compassion go hand-in-hand, and both can help us to feel gratitude, foster deep connections with others, and invite more warmth into our lives. If you find yourself sincerely caring and feeling for others, understanding their suffering, and feeling the urge to help or support them, you are practicing compassion.

Compassion is the ability to feel sincere sympathy or sadness for another who is experiencing hardship, accompanied by a strong desire to help or lessen the suffering. To be compassionate with one another means that we notice the pain another is going through, and we offer help, attention, or loving-kindness to them. This kind of support or holding space for another is kind, warm, and patient.

How can we offer compassion to one another?

Listen, provide undivided attention, speak with kindness, and offer acceptance. You may not have a solution to someone else’s suffering, but merely being there for another being is an act of love and compassion.

We must also have compassion for ourselves. Often we are our own worst critic, and we allow our minds to follow the path of harmful thoughts or negative self-talk, putting ourselves down or feeling as though we are not enough. When we find ourselves in the trance of non-compassionate thinking, we can stop, take a breath, and focus on where the breath travels in the body. After following our inhalations and exhalations for a minute or two, we may begin to notice the pattern of thoughts in the mind, calling them exactly what they are, thoughts, and sending ourselves some love and compassion.

How do empathy and compassion differ?

They are similar concepts. The difference between compassion and empathy is that compassion is feeling for another and their situation. Empathy is the ability to understand another’s feelings or situation, taken a step further by figuratively putting yourself in another’s shoes, imagining what they must be going through, and offering loving-kindness.

About the Author:

Kara Willingham discovered the benefits of yoga, meditation, and regular practice in 2013. After embarking upon her first retreat and taking the time to listen to her body, she simply fell in love. Over the years, Kara has immersed herself in the world of yoga and enjoys how her practice is ever-changing and always growing. Kara finds joy in teaching yoga, building relationships within her community, and sharing her passion for wellness with others.

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