Your Compassionate Heart

You have one. We all do. It just gets covered over with a protective shell of fear about your own survival. Or it is buried and forgotten in a busy and sometimes frantic daily life. We get lost in our own worries and concerns and forget about the others we share the world with. We lose sight of the fact that everyone else around us is living lives very similar to our own at the most basic level, beginning with birth and ending with death. Yet isn’t life about more than that really? Aren’t we greater than the events of our lives? Isn’t there a thread that ties us together, in spite of our differences?

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What Is It Like Being You?

Compassion is hard wired in our organism, and can be cultivated. This talk helps us identify the blocks to compassion—our outmoded survival equipment—and using RAIN, offers practical guidance in mindfully attuning to others’ emotional experience and awakening our natural tenderness and care. This talk includes a short introduction to the meditation: The RAIN of Compassion.

Empathy is the ability to feel what other people feel… compassion includes empathy, and it also has the quality of caring and concern that wants to help. Compassion means “to suffer together,” but it is really defined by a quivering of the heart that wants to help…

Compassion is our evolutionary potential. We have a capacity for affiliative care, to tune in to each other and to care about each other. And, really, this capacity is the hope of our world…

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Sure, Honey, but...

“Sure, honey,” my mother used to say. “I appreciate how you feel…” My mother was very empathic – in her way.

 

“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person's perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It's all through our own individual prisms.” ---Sterling K. Brown

 

Then: “But…”

 

“Sure honey, I appreciate how you feel but,” she would say, “-but, remember, there’s always somebody in the world who’s worse off than you.”

 

Well, it’s true. It’s true for every one of the 7 billion of us (except one person, pray for him). As a kid it was frustrating. It didn’t deal with the problem or my feelings. So, when I (still) hear those words in my mind, I relegate them to the “Cold Comfort” file. When my mother’s mother came to visit and I was crying, she would crouch down to be eye to eye with me and say, “Ohh, you’re crying – we have to get the Crying Towel…where is it? Can you find it? Let’s get the Crying Towel…” Cold Comfort. Another would be, “So far you’ve survived 100% of your worst days – the odds are in your favour.” True, but similar to yelling “Calm down!” at someone suffering from a panic attack.

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The Art of Compassion

Have you ever found yourself standing in line for a ticket, when someone pushes in front of you saying they’re going to miss their train if they don’t get their ticket quickly? You have two choices, either to be really annoyed and irritated or to show compassion and extend forgiveness. Of course, you don’t know whether they would miss their train or not, as you don’t know their situation … but to extend your forgiveness by trying to put yourself in their shoes, to appreciate their situation is much harder to do. For all you know, they might have young children in daycare or school, and if they miss their train, they won’t be back in time to pick them up.

I’m fascinated on a spiritual level that many of us don’t always see that compassion is all about that deep level of connectiveness between ourselves and others. Being able to demonstrate compassion proves that we can push the boundaries of our tolerance and understanding beyond what we believe. It’s worth the time and effort to explore how to push that boundary of understanding further, and with practice it’s possible to become even more compassionate.

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Accepting Life in Motion and Feeling

The following is an excerpt from The Cat's Reincarnation: Transformative Encounters with Animals.

 

We learn the same life lessons again and again, delving more deeply into the essence of these. We spiral and cycle through love that lightens, expands, and falls further into the endless each time we revolve through a familiar lesson with a loved one.


When I treat life with a willingness to cooperate, all life becomes my teacher and my lover.  Recently I experienced some cramping during my menstrual flow. Believing that my ovaries have a life of their own and were expressing something to me, I decide to be my ovaries for a while. I took my consciousness into my ovaries. I placed my feeling awareness right in my ovaries. It became apparent that some sorrow was living there. I saw pictures of events that had happened many years ago which had lodged themselves in my ovaries. As I remained fully present, fully accepting of the ovaries' experience, the pain intensified. I was one with the pain so it no longer hurt.  I was placing my consciousness in the ovaries instead of analyzing them. The pain was merely a sensation. As I remained present, the pain subsided. I took the pain to my heart (a practice suggested by Margaret Ruby, who is the founder of Possibilities DNA) and forgave it. My ovaries felt a tingling joy. I was in love with life.

During a visit,  Feline Sno's person tells me that Sno has become calmer since the two of us recently spent time with one another. Sno has also repeated being stand-offish among some guests. My heart tells me again that Sno is a very loving and sensitive little being. I feel her to be playful, and she affirms this is so. These are her thoughts sent through my heart. We feel and think together. She sends me heart-telepathic pictures of herself as an acrobatic healer, bringing me great delight and joy. When I approach her she hisses. Her outer behavior doesn't  match what I feel she is communicating to me from within so I remain curious.

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If you had an open heart, what would you do with it?

When I talk about opening the heart, what exactly do we do? Well, one thing you do is acknowledge that you feel closed. That’s the first thing. You don’t make believe you’re open hearted, which most people do much of the time, when they are actually a little more aloof than they’re feeling themselves to be. They always feel a little hypocritical.

First thing is to acknowledge what you’re feeling. I’ll tell you there are numerous practices for doing this, and you have to find one that’s comfortable for you. For example, I work a lot with my breath, and I breathe in and out of my heart, and when I’m breathing out in my heart, I allow whatever love I can muster for anything to be offered to people, to beings around me, and when I’m breathing in, I’m taking the existence of the universe into myself. I keep feeling this breath going back and forth and the breathing out is, ‘may all beings be free of suffering, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy.’

I’m just saying to myself that no matter how hard-hearted or closed hearted I am, I am going to use my energies to the extent that my mind and my heart can do it for the benefit of others. I’m gonna wish them well, and I start out very uptight, you know, so I start out and then I watch.

 

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Losing Heart and Having Heart in Troubled Times

When you “lose heart,” you become discouraged and lose hope. When you “have heart,” you keep your faith and trust in spite of the odds. We are living at a time in which both of these options present themselves. The shadow side of our collective consciousness in the United States is coming to the fore, and we are seeing people fiercely hanging on to privileges and prejudices as if their lives depended on it. In truth, it is their identities, their egos, that depend on belief systems based in hierarchy and entitlement.

The 1% believe they have earned their place at the top of the heap and that those they have stepped on and profited from in order to get there are losers and leeches. Minorities and immigrants are targeted as threats to an elitist, white-male status quo. The exact opposite of the values of democracy and equal rights that this country is supposedly founded on. Of course, those founders were also white, male, and many were slaveholders, so the underside of American “freedom” has always existed.


When the rest of us look at this scenario, our hearts are tested. Will we lose hope or will we keep our faith that the imbalances will eventually right themselves? To paraphrase (and update) Thomas Paine: these are the times that try human souls. Can generosity, compassion, and loving-kindness eventually prevail in a society like ours where the accumulation and hoarding of monetary wealth and material possessions, as well as the oppression of entire segments of the population, is so widespread? Classism and racism overlay our so-called democratic society, to say nothing of sexism.

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My Religion is Kindness – Part 2 ~

Authentic kindness must include the life within us. These two talks examine the movement from an armored to a free and loving heart. The first looks at how we can awaken from the trance of unworthiness and establish a genuinely caring relationship with our inner life. In the second we explore how self-kindness awakens us to the heartspace that naturally includes all of life.

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My Religion is Kindness – Part 1 ~

Authentic kindness must include the life within us. These two talks examine the movement from an armored to a free and loving heart. The first looks at how we can awaken from the trance of unworthiness and establish a genuinely caring relationship with our inner life. In the second we explore how self-kindness awakens us to the heartspace that naturally includes all of life.

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How do you free up your consciousness for people who are suffering?

People ask me now, “Are you happy these days?” and I say, “Yes, I am. I’m very happy,” and they say, “Oh, that’s good.” Somebody else says, “Are you sad these days?” and I say, “Yeah, I’m sad.” That was a very big one to find out, cause I grew up in a world where in order to be happy, you had to make believe you weren’t sad.

It was a great relief to understand that all the emotions are present in every moment, and somehow they’re present in their unmanifest or imminent form; and then within a moment is something that awakens grief or pain or joy, or preciousness, or humor… you’re just dancing through all the forms of life, and what I saw was that as long as I had aversions, I couldn’t be free, and until I could be free, I couldn’t see anybody else.

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Saving Grace—Elephants, Dolphins, and Whales (video)

Elephants, dolphins, and whales are three of the most intelligent, grace-filled beings on Earth. In this week’s video blog, I talk about my own experiences with them and offer a prayer/plea for their survival. May we humans open our awareness and step away from cruel and heartless behaviors that endanger the lives and well-being of these magnificent creatures we share the planet with. Save the elephants. Save the dolphins. Save the whales. Save all animals. And in doing so, save the sweet grace they embody in their lives.

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How do we optimize our connections to ourselves and to the world?

I’ve been asked many times whether this is the aquarian age and it’s all just beginning, or if this is armageddon and this is the end, and I have to admit I don’t know.


The way I’ve usually copped out in dealing with it is saying, “Whichever way it goes, my work is the same. My work is to quiet my mind and open my heart and relieve suffering wherever I find it.” That seems to be what my life is about, and it doesn’t matter which it is- it’s the beginning of everything or the end of everything – regardless, that’s still what I gotta do.


I prepare for death… and so from a spiritual point of view, from the point of view of our spiritual evolution, and depending on which way the karma is going to go for the humanity on earth – it’s grist for the mill.

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I Couldn’t Breathe… and then I Remembered ( tips for staying sane in these insane times)

This past week has been a blur.


Have you ever felt that you’ve been swept up in a tornado of feelings that you can’t control and don’t even know the source?


It’s been surreal if you think about everything that has happened in the past month alone- a relentless tsunami of suffering and tragedy- all of it real, all of it needing to count.


Which do you pick? The devastation in the Caribbean? Texas? Louisiana? Las Vegas? Or should we look overseas?


I live here in North America and so what happens closest to me is on the news and I’m more exposed to the locale but this is all but a snapshot symbol of a deep insistent global pain, that we feel rising up from an unknown space within us, and we don’t even know what to call it and we resist it by deflecting it through rage and apathy, fear and denial.


But it’s all about waking us up – to what lies beyond this nameless pain.

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“If you think you are free, you can’t escape…”

You realize as you start to come into awareness that you are experiencing other things as if you are them, rather than in a dualistic way, as if you are separate from them. Prior to experiencing that plane of existence, when you’re still seeing it as separate, you experience things like sympathy, kindness, pity, caring, however these are all dualistic concepts, and the term compassion is something else all together.


The term compassion manifests when you come to the plane where you see everything is all part of one thing. You start to ask, “Well whose suffering is it anyway? Whose helping is it anyway?” And the whole idea that, “I’ll help you,” is seen as nonsense. It’s like the left hand is caught, and the right hand pulls it out and the left hand turns to the right and says, “Thank you!” It doesn’t work that way, because they’re both part of the same body. Who are you thanking? You’re thanking yourself, so that on that plane, you realize it’s not ‘her’ suffering, or ‘his’ suffering, or ‘their’ suffering. It’s one level, you go up, and it’s ‘OUR’ suffering.

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Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part I: Forgiveness

This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature.

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Radical Compassion – Part 2

Compassion is the medicine we most need as individuals and a species to heal suffering and free our spirits. The essence of compassion for ourselves and others – what I call Radical Compassion – has three key elements: it is an embodied experience (a felt sense of tenderness), it is inclusive all beings, and it naturally moves us to act from a caring heart. This two-part talk explores the alchemy of Radical Compassion and guides us in awakening this intrinsic expression of our evolutionary potential.

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Radical Compassion – Part 1 –

Compassion is the medicine we most need as individuals and a species to heal suffering and free our spirits. The essence of compassion for ourselves and others – what I call Radical Compassion – has three key elements: it is an embodied experience (a felt sense of tenderness), it is inclusive all beings, and it naturally moves us to act from a caring heart. This two-part talk explores the alchemy of Radical Compassion and guides us in awakening this intrinsic expression of our evolutionary potential.
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My Easter Reflections

Today is Easter Sunday.

Somewhere along the way, it seems that this holiday has become all about bunnies and eggs and pretty dresses and chocolate. But to me, it is about so much more.

To me, Easter is all about rising. I’m not just talking about the way that Jesus rose from the dead, although in a way that’s my metaphor. I’m talking about the fact that today can be a moment when each of us chooses to rise in our own lives.

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Faith, Hope, and Clarity

Because of the current tumultuous political events in this country and worldwide, we need to hold a clear positive vision in our hearts of a more peaceful, compassionate world so that we don’t lose hope. In this week’s blog, which is a video instead of a written article, I talk about the importance of maintaining faith, hope, and clarity in our day-to-day lives.

The Dynamics of Giving and Receiving

What yogis begin to do is to change their way of thinking in order to look at the universe differently. In order to do this, there is a period of time where they must pull back from the drama in order to be able to see it. It’s like a moratorium, it’s a time when you stand back, like you go on a vacation. It’s actually extremely hard work by the way, very exacting and very, very difficult work.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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