This mindfulness practice is designed to help you connect to compassion – for yourself, for others and for the community you serve. Invite a feeling of compassion through meditation, journaling, a compassionate yoga pose, and systematic reset.
A Mindfulness Practice in Compassion
As a young child, I often heard the word “compassion” without truly understanding it’s meaning. I figured it just meant to be nice to others.
As the years passed, however, the true meaning of compassion began to define itself within me, throughout me and flow into the lives of others. I began to practice karma yoga (yoga in action) and seva (selfless service).
With each experience, I better understood the challenges, suffering and misfortunes of others. I witnessed that not everyone comes from a life of privilege or has access to support and resources that allow them to transcend their circumstances.
We all learn to do the best we can with whatever we face, and everyone’s struggle is different.
It was through seva that I learned about the struggles of others. I began to understand that true compassion means supporting and loving people, no matter their circumstances.
When we provide unconditional support to another, in return, they give us a deep connection – the connection of compassion. Once that feeling enters your heart, it grows a deep acceptance for humanity in all its forms.
How do you describe compassion?
A Compassionate Meditation
One of the best ways to connect to compassion is to tap into your body. Before you start this mindfulness practice, take 30-45 minutes to practice moving your body in a way that makes you feel good. Maybe it’s walking, jogging, roller skating, yoga or lifting weights. Choose something you’ll look forward to.
Once you’ve woken up the body through movement, it’s time for a systematic reset. Use the relaxing mindfulness exercise below to find a moment of compassion and kindness for yourself.
A Compassionate Journal Prompt
After the meditation portion of your mindfulness practice, take a moment to journal your thoughts.
Once you’re ready, take out a pen and paper. At the top of the page, write the phrase: “In this very moment, compassion means that I …”
Set a timer for 5 minutes, and once you start, try to write or draw until the timer stops.
Try the following steps:
- Once the timer completes, read what was written. Pick the sentence that stands out the most to you.
- Set the timer for 4 minutes. This time, begin with the sentence you chose. If you drew a picture, notice what comes up when looking at it. Continue by adding to it or drawing something new.
- Once the timer completes, read the written words, and once again, pick the sentence that stands out most to you.
- One last time, set the timer for 4 minutes, and begin with the sentence you just chose.
- Now, read through all three journal prompts, then pause. Let the words sit with you as you keep the eyes opened or closed – and notice what compassion feels like.
A Compassionate Yoga Pose
With many benefits, a simple backbend is a great way to open your heart physically and emotionally. It’s a beautiful pose to encourage compassion for yourself and others.
- Improves posture, especially if you find yourself working at a desk or driving all day!
- Opens up the thoracic spine, which can counteract any hunching in the upper back
- Stretches and creates space in the chest and belly, as well as the front of the thighs (hip flexors)
- Stimulates and supports the body when feeling sluggish, lethargic or depressed.
- Shifts mood and energy
- Creates an opening and fresh space in the heart chakra
- Builds confidence by enhancing body awareness, mindfulness and concentration
- Offers a challenge by building strength
- Helps alleviate breathing problems by creating space in the chest, reinforcing an expansion in the lungs and strengthening the muscles that support full, deep breathing
- Back problems – including bulging or herniated discs and osteoporosis – or chronic lower back pain
- Shoulder, wrist and neck injuries
- High blood pressure
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” – Buddha