Sunday, December 11, 2011

Compassion and Kindness

- alternate version of 12/11 newsletter
I love this holiday time where we practice opening our hearts towards others by giving gifts to loved-ones and generously making offerings towards those in need. In Yoga, one of the highest practices of generosity is to generate compassion and kindness for all beings, but especially for those people who trigger you the most.

I've recently been faced with the opportunity to practice this quite a bit! While it has been very unpleasant to feel somebody's frustration pointed towards me, I've been able to appreciate the unique growth that has evolved from it. I've been watching my impulses to react defensively against the perceived threat; my ego wanting to defend it's position or wanting to counter-attack. This kind of response is so natural, so human. And yet as a conscious being, I've been doing my best to choose compassion and kindness instead. (Using e-mail has greatly facilitated this process as it's given me the space to think before I respond).

As I've shared in classes this week, what helps me to respond with kindness is first generating compassion (karuna) for this person. I try to see the ways we are alike and I try to feel how I imagine this person is feeling. I remember that it is because of their suffering that they are being unkind to me and that helps me to feel genuine compassion. Once I experience compassion, I can more easily respond with kindness.

I always feel better when I generate compassion and kindness than when I react out of my habitual or animalistic tendencies. And I know my words are much better received that way as well.

May you experience the true compassion that supports your kindness towards all beings

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