When we experience suffering—whether our own or another’s—we feel empathy and a desire to remove or relieve the cause of that suffering. This is compassion. It comes from seeing suffering and opening to it, which actually requires courage, clarity, and wisdom. Contrary to what some people may believe, being compassionate is not a weakness. Courage has a huge part in its manifestation.
This is where mindfulness comes in. We need mindfulness to attain courage, clarity, and wisdom—and only then can we embody compassion. When we are able to see clearly, we are able to act wisely. What must we do or say to relieve the suffering? We can know the answers when we spend time in mindful awareness.
Those who are able to cultivate compassion have been reported to enjoy greater resilience, decreased negative emotions, enhanced relationships, and greater happiness.
A few points to remember
Take it one step at a time. Small actions matter as far as compassion is concerned. Each step leads to the final destination. Unless we take it one step at a time, we may be overwhelmed by all the suffering around us.
Don’t put all the weight on your shoulders. Remember that it is not our responsibility to fix every broken thing. Everybody has limits, and as long as we do what we can, that is more than enough. It could also be that we are suited for other forms of caring.
There are things we cannot control. And so we may not see our compassionate acts bear fruit in this lifetime. That’s okay. It helps to look at our actions as seeds planted, which may bear fruit at some future time.
Sometimes, people are just busy or stressed out. This is why they (or we) may appear uncaring. It would be good to remember that people are inherently compassionate. Mindfulness will help us become more sensitive to the needs of others, despite our difficult circumstances.
Mindfulness makes us see that we are one. Without separation, we realize that one person’s pain is also our own. This leads to understanding, love, and a genuine desire to help.