20 Jan Holding Others In Our Heart
Compassion begins with a mindful presence, letting ourselves recognize and be touched by pain (our own or another’s) and responding with a heartfelt presence. I sometimes think of it as breathing in and breathing out. That we breathe in and let in the realness, the rawness of what’s here. And we breathe out and we offer our care and our tenderness.
And yet, for many there’s a fear of being overwhelmed. Many people might say, “But I’m already too thin-skinned. I already am completely barraged by other people’s pain. I can barely handle it.” Sometimes if the vulnerability feels too much, it’s really appropriate to resource and stabilize, to turn our attention somewhere else, to breathe, to ground, to have a sense of space that’s here.
But I’ve also found that we overestimate how much there is and we underestimate our inner resources. And in a very basic way, if we’re perceiving ourself as a self that’s letting in the universe’s woes, there’s not going to be enough room. But if we begin to imagine ourselves as a flow through, just where the breath comes in and it flows through us and it moves out, the heart becomes a transformer of sorrows.
We can breathe and imagine it coming in and then moving on to the vast heart of the world. And what happens as we begin to be present with the huge energies of pain in this universe, is we discover that there is space. And we develop what the Tibetans call the “Lion’s Roar,” which is a sense of confidence that we can handle this life.
And more than any form of happiness (this is the deepest kind of joy that we can experience) is a sense that however it is, there’s room for it. That we don’t have to tense against what’s to come. We can enjoy and live the moments that are here, because we have room for them. It’s a heart that is ready for anything.