“My education gave me everything I needed
except how to make it through an ordinary day.”
— Søren Kierkegaard
Cultivating Compassion - with Eva Papadopoulo
Those of you who know me know I’ve been teaching MBSR for a while now, in fact 18 years. I have the pleasure, through my work to be reminded regularly that the very thing that unites us all as humans is that we all want relief from suffering.
No one is exempt, young, old, healthy, sick, rich or poor. We all suffer.
Mindfulness practice is a necessary act of kindness
However, the way we engage or don’t engage with suffering will alleviate or exacerbate pain. For me this reminder is heartening. My humanness being reflected in each person I meet in every new class has deeply supported me to view my mindfulness practice as a necessary act of kindness.
This has profoundly changed the relationship I have with myself.
Mindfulness reminds me to treat myself with kindness and acceptance from moment to moment particularly when the impulse is to run, hide, pull away or blame (usually myself). This inate impulse to protect our self from pain is hard wired and requires particular attention and work to not react habitually. The work that’s needed in staying and attending, which is the opposite of our survival mode is so beautifully expressed by Shane Koyczan…..“I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean towards the opposite.”
Compassion is the balm
In this era of so many pressures, stresses and expectations, compassion is the balm, I believe, to “lean towards” peace and connectedness.
Kent Hoffman describes the perceived isolation from humanity so eloquently, “…we exist on some primitive edge of life, terrified of falling forever.” Cultivating compassion can support us to recognise when we need to attend with tenderness when“we exist on some primitive edge of life”, because of the relentless fear of failure, the never being enough, the guilt of the past, the dread of the future, and the sometimes painful present. When we practice compassion we begin to change our attitudes towards our self and the way we place our self in relation to others. The harsh critisism about our difficult thoughts, feelings and experiences can be met with more kindness, empathy and understanding. This acceptance and non-judgment, therefore soothing, helps us develop a caring attitude that encourages us to live with less guilt and shame and with more self-worth. For me, attending in this way has helped me develop more friendliness and kindness towards myself allowing me to feel my connectedness to humanity rather than the isolation that self-loathing can generate.
“Research has shown that self-compassion greatly enhances emotional wellbeing. It boosts happiness, reduces anxiety and depression, and can even help maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise. Being both mindful and compassionate leads to greater ease and well-being in our daily lives.” Kristen Neff
Here's a link to the Cultivating Compassion page
Please note you have to have completed a MBSR course or equivalent to attend this graduate course.