For almost a decade now, I have had the honor of working with students and clients in the field at Entrada. First as a field staff and now as the Health and Wellness Coordinator. For a decade I have witnessed a phenomenon that always gives me great hope in the face of even the direst of cases. Compassion. Even more importantly… self-compassion.
Viewing entries tagged with 'compassion'
Three months ago my life changed forever when I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. The experience has already begun to teach me many things about myself, my partner, my family and friends, and even the world. One of the many things inspiring reflection came when I started to introduce our daughter to her younger cousins and family friends. Whenever our baby was in the presence of these small children, I found myself constantly reminding the children to “be gentle." All other adults in the room did the same. We even used a gentle coaching tone when we echoed the words. Of course, we did this because newborns are delicate and young children are often unintentionally clumsy and unaware of the impact their actions may have.
I was once asked “How long does it take to understand the kind of childhood one has endured?” While this understanding comes at a different pace and with more or less clarity at times, one can hear the messages of a childhood by learning to hear our inner voices. The dialogue of self doubt; the justifications; the apologies; the “I hope you don’t think I am whining…” –all these offer glimpses into the spoken and unspoken messages of one’s childhood. The sometimes critical inner-voice can be recognized not just by listening to the negative thoughts, but also by listening to the qualifying comments. “I know this may sound selfish, but…” or “I don’t want this to seem…”
It seems like more now than ever before in my work as a health coach or Health and Wellness Coordinator for Evoke do I find the need to teach more compassion practices. Our world can, at times, feel like it's fraught with so much division, stress, lack consciousness, greed, misunderstanding, and fear. All of these feelings wreak havoc on our psyches, our hearts, and even our bodies. Today, over 40 million people in the US alone suffer from an anxiety disorder.
When I’m in the field working in a group and I look at a face of apathy, I’m looking at the 17 year old Elise. I remember feeling so done with the world around me. Yup, my depression in a nutshell.
The practice of loving kindness is most often associated with the Theraveda Buddhist tradition. This meditation practice, referred to as Metta, can be found in the Pali Cannon that dates back 2,500 years and is the traditional scriptures for Theraveda Buddhism. Although this practice has roots in Buddhist discipline, its practice has spread to the mainstream. Compassion meditations are often used with the 12 Step program, have been highly studied in the Western sciences particularly neuroscience and psychology, and being taught in our schools!