by Nischala Joy Devi.
April 16, 2013.
The word “compassion” is such a beautiful word; soft and gentle, it is comprised of two parts: com, meaning “with,” and passion, meaning “any intense emotion, either pleasurable or painful.” Many times it is difficult to know which aspect of passion we are feeling, and sometimes we clearly encounter both at the same time.
Compassion is a form of infinite love, in that nothing can affect or limit it. It is extolled as a virtue for the very few, but is it? Women seem to have a natural gift for radiating love and compassion. Our heartfelt compassion often embraces people in unfortunate circumstances beyond their control.
What, then, could prevail that would obscure this natural quality? In certain circumstances a hesitation on our part may occur when someone is unhappy and needs our compassionate balm. Could our own worry and stress place compassion on the back burner?
Running late might be reason enough to create anxiety and prompt us to neglect our compassionate nature. If you feel rushed, a simple delay accelerates your anxiety. I think everyone has had an experience like this: You’re waiting at a red light. Immediately, as it changes to green, your foot comes off the brake, hovering above the gas pedal—you’re ready to go! But traffic is not moving! Irritation mounts. You strain to look out the window, even give a toot on the horn. “Why aren’t they moving? The light is not going to get any greener! Probably someone’s daydreaming or talking on her cell phone. I don’t have all day! Let’s go!” You’re now in a fully adrenaline-charged state.
Imagine that, when accelerating forcefully as the light turns from yellow to red, you notice out of the corner of your eye a blind person and her guide dog safely finishing traversing the street. That was the cause of the delay—the very delay that caused you to be so irritated, anxious, and even angry. Observing the woman and her dog, your heart is again able to open and expand. The anger and annoyance dissipate, replaced by compassion.
The next time you’re in a similar situation, recall this story and give the benefit of the doubt, allowing compassion to take over the driver’s seat.
The way we treat others often reflects on how we treat ourselves. When you are compassionate to those around you, it becomes easier to replicate that compassion when you are the one who caused a problem.
Did you ever press the wrong button on the computer and delete hours of work? Or perhaps you thought you set the oven to go off at a certain time, but your dinner guests arrive to find dinner uncooked? At times like this, and in even more serious situations, having compassion for yourself is most important. Instead of calling yourself unkind names, take a moment to speak sweetly as if to a child. “It’s okay, sweetie, we can always call for takeout.” At times like these, you need all the love and compassion you can soak up.
For many of us, compassion is a one-way street going out of ourselves. Let it circle back around; use compassion as a soothing salve to treat everyone, starting with yourself!
Compassion is Yoga– an article by Nischala Joy Devi
Upcoming workshops with Nischala Joy Devi
Photo credit: Carl Chaitanya Hawker