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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Exercise ten: feeling more compassion

Posted on Happy Minds!

Exercise 10: feeling more compassion
This exercise is very similar to exercise 6, but a lot shorter and described a little different this time.

Remember a time you felt completely connected to someone. Do you agree that this was a very good, warm, healthy feeling? Maybe you feel this right now for someone. For a friend, a relative, your partner, your kids, or for your pet. This feeling is a great source of happiness! However, generally it seems that having this feeling is restricted to a certain few in your direct environment.
However, can you imagine what happens if you spend 10 minutes every day, cultivating this feeling and then sending it to all people around you, instead of to just a few?

You might say: cultivate it? How can you cultivate something like an emotion, it has to happen spontaneously! Well, if you are willing to do a little experiment, you might change your mind about that.
It’s a very simple experiment. Just sit with your eyes closed. If you feel lots of stress, try to do the breathing exercise described in exercise 3. Once you feel calm, neutral, and able to sit comfortably for a few minutes, just start thinking of the friends, relatives, children and/or animals you feel connected with. Try to imagine a bright, precise picture of them in your minds eye. See them smiling, see how they care for you. Pay close attention to what you feel. Maybe you’ll feel some warmth in your chest, maybe a tingling feeling in your stomach, or maybe you’ll just notice how you start to relax. Go on imagining this, until the feeling is quite strong.
When it’s strong enough for you, think of someone that doesn’t belong in your circle of beloved ones. Somebody that invokes a neutral feeling. Try to hold on to that feeling you had just an instant ago while imagining your beloved ones. If that’s hard, imagine that this person, that you do not have these feelings for, also has a circle of kith and kin. Try to see how this person is struggling, just like you, to keep his or her head above the water. Try to see how this person tries to be a friendly, warm human being to others. And if you can still not feel that same warmth for this person now, try to see this person going through lots of pain, loneliness and depression. Try to see how this person needs other people.
For most people, this exercise produces a small, but noticeable result the first time they do it. If you would do it every day for two weeks, you would notice that it gets a lot easier and very enjoyable! If you would do it for a couple of months, you might start to notice that your relating to people around you tends to get warmer and healthier. Of course, to some extent it depends on your determination to let this feeling penetrate your daily consciousness. But this can be trained! Studies on people who have done many hours of this training, show that it can make you very happy.

1 comment:

  1. interesting blog, I'll have to come back and read more, thanks


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