Perspective is important. We should all keep in mind that our problems could be worse, and that all suffering is relative. This can help us feel less overwhelmed by our own challenges, more grateful for our many blessings, and more compelled to empathize with and help others.
This type of compassion is not an easy one, and not everyone can comprehend or understand it. It takes an expanded mind to be able to go far enough to feel another person's point of being and to accept it as is.
Richie had truly "seen" Sharon -- her vulnerability and spirit, and he'd expressed his care by mirroring her goodness. It took another year and a half for her to tell him what those gifts had meant to her, and to apologize. But because he hadn't given up on her, a thaw had begun.
We feed the wolf of love with heart and with hope. We feed this wolf by sustaining our sense of what's good in other people, what's good in ourselves, what's already good in our world, and what could be even better in a world we can build together.
When situations or people challenge us, we need to identify that we're angry, confused, or frustrated. If we acknowledge that we're likely to make poor decisions in these states, it's easier to find the motivation to let these emotions go.
The future will change one person at a time and one thought at a time. You can't bring back a child, but you can bring back the hope in one. You can show love to those that have been raised in hate and you can be an oasis of kindness in a desert of cruelty.
We are deeply imprinted by the suffering we have caused others. In the Buddhist teachings, such sensitivity can be intelligent and healthy -- it plays an important role in awakening and freeing our hearts.
Love became my "true north" -- my guiding principle for acting from my highest and best self. When I am confused and upset, I need something simple and easy to remember. So my "guiding question" in a tough moment is: "What would love do?"
In the wake of Sandy, I've been reflecting on the relatively upbeat and supportive mood around here and what it can teach us: Specifically, these questions: How come we can't pull together like this all the time?
What if we paid deeper attention to those we live with? To the earth that is our home? To our own heart? Not only would we cease to cause harm, our attention would offer the medicine that could bring healing to our world.
The next time you aren't taking into consideration the feelings of others, it's perfectly normal and okay. Just remember, the self-centered feeling within you is actually your custom-designed reminder that it's you that is off, not the world around you.
Think about compassion like a radio dial. We can tune our compassion up or down, but where the dial lands will depend on our concerns about being overwhelmed and on how well we can control our emotions.
My task was to teach them how to become more compassionate using an accessible program of exercises. First, however, I had to convince them that it was worth their precious time to learn how to stop, settle the mind, and open the heart.
What surprised me the most though was how quickly I had fallen into the basement of my own psyche. I had thought of myself as having inner strength and a strong faith. However, I really was living on thin ice.