May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be peaceful and at ease
May you know the beauty of your own true nature
May you be happy
May you be healed
– Buddhist Blessing
My word of the year is compassion. The practice of it is a struggle. How do you integrate compassion in your daily life? How do you stop making assumptions and judgments? In the recent weeks, I analyzed my reaction to a particular situation. There is a woman at my daughter’s school that I encounter most days, but she never smiles and makes no efforts to say hello. Even when I wave my hand or give her a smile, there is very little response. I automatically assumed that she didn’t like me or that she was __________ (you fill in the blank), but in reality I don’t know what she is facing.
The tendency is to make another person’s behavior about some deficiency in us. I stopped for a minute after making my judgment and thought, maybe she is struggling with her something. Maybe her mom is sick. Maybe she is sick. Maybe she just got laid off from work. Maybe she is suffering from depression. I really don’t know what she is facing. But I needed to stop and think for just a single minute about her, instead of myself. I believe that in order to practice compassion you have to treat each negative encounter by attempting to embrace the other person’s internal conflict, their internal something.
In recent weeks, my heart has reached the conclusion that all of us are carrying something. Intellectually, my mind probably knew this, but lately I’ve let it sink into the recesses of my heart. We are all embracing a struggle. We may keep it to ourselves, but just because we aren’t confessing, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s one of the biggest cliches: To live means to struggle. But we are sometimes solely focused on our own struggles. And I am not certain if we can pave the way for compassion by solely thinking about our internal churnings.
Ultimately, we are all trying to heal. And instead of bowing to the easiest assumption, I am trying to practice compassion by filling myself with the words of lovingkindness. I know I will fail at this over and over, but at the very minimum compassion becomes not something that I not only value, but practice.