How To Awaken Compassion And Find True Refuge In Your Heart
“Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.”—Duane Elgin
Compassion is part of your true nature since you are the embodiment of love. You are familiar with compassion by virtue of feeding, clothing and tending to your own needs. Compassion is extending these qualities to others and recognizing the same humanity that is alive in you. Compassion is the recognition of our shared togetherness as sentient beings. Knowing we are connected through consciousness, we walk this journey together unified with our hearts and minds.
You feel one another’s pain and share their joy because what you feel within is also active in others. Psychologist Rick Hanson explains in his recent book Resilient: 12 Tools For Transforming Everyday Experiences Into Lasting Happiness that compassion is activated within us the more we engage it, “The key to growing any psychological resource, including compassion, is to have repeated experiences of it that get turned into lasting changes in neural structure or function. It’s like recording a song on an old-fashioned tape recorder: as the song plays—as you experience the resource—you can help it leave a physical trace behind in your nervous system.”
To awaken compassion is to give and receive love. It is a heart-centered focus of reaching out to a fellow human being and sharing kindness and empathy. I recognize my sacredness and acknowledge this presence within you. True refuge denotes coming home to your heart and touching the oneness of your being. Compassion and finding refuge within your heart are soulmates coexisting in a sea of unity; a marriage bonded through devotedness.
“Knowing in your heart that you are a basically good person is a true refuge. No matter the ups and downs of successes and failures, loves and losses, you can find comfort and strength in this knowledge,” affirms Rick Hanson.
Coming Home to Yourself
“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.”—Proverb
Awakening compassion requires moving your awareness into your heart. I wrote in an earlier article How To Discover The Language Of Your Heart and outlined ways to discern this language. If you are continually absorbed in your thoughts, you are at the mercy of succumbing to them and creating stress in your life. Thoughts can be volatile if you don’t understand their function. This requires self-understanding to recognize you are not your thoughts but the receiver of the thoughts.
I’m not suggesting you ignore your thoughts, I’m proposing that you understand their mechanism in order to better navigate life. If you wish to awaken compassion, you must practice it often and develop a two-way communication with your heart. If you are unable to recognize the stirring of your heart, you miss out on perceiving its consciousness. Psychotherapist and author David Richo states in The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, “The most precious realities of human life are beyond our grasp but within the mystery of our hearts.”
Finding refuge in your heart is like returning home after being abroad for years. You are drawn to the familiarity and the sense of love; the freedom of being yourself. This feeling is experienced by those in romantic relationships who speak of the togetherness shared by one another; a returning home when in the company of their beloved. What they’re really experiencing is coming home to themselves. The other person awakens the love within their own heart, resonated back through heart coherence. You awaken compassion in the same way you express kindness to your fellow beings.
A practice I perform often is to send thoughts of love and kindness to complete strangers when I’m walking in my city. I silently affirm to myself as a person passes me in the street: “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you live with ease.”
I feel peaceful and any thoughts of anger, hostility or fear are washed away because a mind at peace cannot be at war with itself. I awaken compassion when I send loving thoughts to others because what I wish for them must be first experienced within me. To send love to another person, I must have the seed of that emotion present within me. I am merely awakening its presence. True refuge is a heartfelt purity of love. To come home to yourself means awakening your soul nature so what is sent forth is returned in full measure.
Consider the message from author Matt Kahn who writes in Whatever Arises, Love That: A Love Revolution That Begins with You of the need to foster an open-hearted dialogue with oneself, “An open heart is the end result of providing the kindness, care, support, and attention that only you were designed to offer yourself.”
The Language of the Heart
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want to experience love and compassion in your life, try the exercise I outlined earlier for 30 days and note how you feel. Send kind and loving thoughts to complete strangers and wish them well. Even while you are sending other people loving thoughts, you are simultaneously awakening love and compassion within you. It is about priming your mind and opening your heart to compassion as the seeds of love.
As you create a sanctuary for love to reside, you stir these emotions within you. Similarly, if you judge or criticize yourself or others, stop and move into your heart and notice what is taking place. I often liken the mind to a Tesla car set on autopilot and driving on a freeway. To regain control of the vehicle you must grasp the steering wheel to disable the autopilot. I invite you to do the same when you move into your heart. Take control by directing the flow of kindness and compassion. Don’t leave it to the mind’s autopilot to sabotage your efforts.
It is difficult for the mind to overpower this union if you are committed to honoring the intention of a loving kindness dialogue. Your heart is an amazing faculty, capable of perceiving information well before the mind can make sense of it. The heart senses long before reason takes hold. If you do not recognize the language of the heart, it is because your thoughts are obscuring it to gain your attention.
“One auspicious moment at a time, an open heart gifts you with masterful relationships, artful communication, and an alignment of perfection that no limiting belief can ever comprehend,” avows Matt Kahn.
To awaken compassion is to develop a shared relationship with your heart, so you are giving and receiving love. True refuge involves uniting with the oneness of your soul, so the love permeates throughout your entire being.
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