It’s no secret that being stressed out is something that all too many of us are familiar with these days. With work and leisure time being less separate due to technology and the ease of which we have access to people and information, it can be hard to switch off from it all.
That’s why one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to focus on being happy as often as we can during our everyday lives. Instead of waiting for happiness to arrive at some future point in time, it makes more sense to bring happiness to us whenever we can.
That’s where the compassion meditation can help.
As the Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Compassion and happiness are intertwined. Where there is compassion, there is real happiness; and when we care for people’s happiness, true compassion emanates. When we think about other people and begin to cultivate sympathy for them, we are not only helping to heal them, but we are also healing ourselves.
As we see past the anger and hatred, replacing it with compassion, we bring in more happiness and invite inner peace. In time, we also build better relationships with the people around us.
Gaining More Compassion through Meditation
Being compassionate means being able to feel a deep, sympathetic and authentic concern for the misfortune of others, as well as your own.
Compassion is a natural emotion that flows out when you see a person’s difficulties. You have this urge to want to take away their pain – be it physical or emotional.
With this urge, you are motivated to put your concern into action, to extend a helping hand in hopes that it will ease the sufferings of a loved one, a stranger or even a person you are having difficult times with. You have a sincere wish that their pains would soon end and be replaced with happiness, and you are even willing to play an active part in alleviating their pain.
But while compassion is something that comes spontaneously, it’s not easy for some people to be compassionate. Many even confuse compassion with pity.
At times, we may also think that by showing compassion, we exhibit weakness and that we are automatically tolerating the wrongdoings that a person has done toward us or others. However, this isn’t the point of compassion, for we can still empathise with somebody who has wronged or hurt us while still standing for our rights and not allow them to mistreat us.
Compassion simply focuses on the sufferings that others feel and in opening our hearts to genuinely wishing them to be free from their hardships, regardless of what they have or have not done. This, in fact, even makes compassion a sign of strength and not of weakness, for it takes enough strength to be able to wish others well despite being wronged.
What is Compassion Meditation?
You can gain and develop more compassion for others and yourself through meditation.
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Compassion meditation is a form of meditation where you envision another person or yourself along with the suffering that each could be experiencing. With a relaxed breathing, pay close attention to the sensations you feel as you think about these sufferings. Then repeatedly recite (silently chant) your wish that their pains be taken away.
During the course of the meditation, you can think of several people for whom you will show compassion. The first could be a loved one; it will be quite easy and very natural to sympathise with them and wish that their suffering be lessened.
You will also be thinking about yourself and your own struggles. Although this sounds easy, for some, it can actually be difficult acknowledging the pains in their life. You will also consider the sufferings of a neutral person – someone you neither like nor dislike – someone that you constantly see but may not have any particular attachment to.
Lastly, and usually the most challenging of all, visualise a person that you dislike or someone that you are having conflicts with. Think about their suffering and give them the same wish that you would for the person you love, for a neutral person and for yourself.
Compassion meditation can be difficult at first and you might even be battling with your emotions as you recite your chant. But as you constantly practise this technique, you will find that there will be positive changes in your perspective, in how you handle your emotions and your life as a whole. You will find that you can have a deeper understanding and sympathy of other people’s sufferings, and these emotions are felt without being forced.
About the Author
Michael Atma is a best-selling meditation and personal development author of Master Your Mindspace, which is a revolutionary fitness book for the mind. His books, seminars and online courses have touched the hearts and changed the lives of thousands of people seeking more happiness, health and fulfilment. Recently, he launched Mindspace Club home to his Meditation Made Simple Program, where you can change your life in just 5-minutes a day. Find out more: Mindspace Club or check out Michael’s website