I believe it is in us to be compassionate. We have an innate ability for compassion. I think it is linked to the same sense that tells us right from wrong. It is a felt sense of awareness about what is needed in a particular situation, such as when a family member or pet dies. We have the instinctive response to feel sad for the person who lost a loved one (empathy) and the desire to perform some action that will help the other person feel better.
Compassion is part of our nature. It might be buried deep under some other emotion such as anger or fear, making it difficult to fully express your compassion. If compassion is built into our human nature, what does it take to nurture this quality? Can our innate compassion be further developed at all stages of our life? I think this is possible. I have read that the practices of yoga and meditation help many people open their hearts and allow their nature of compassion to grow. Once your heart opens, you may begin to feel somewhat vulnerable to the ebb and flow of life. But it is our ability to connect with our own internal struggle for self-compassion that is the gateway towards directing our compassion towards others.
Instead of giving ourselves over to the struggles (obstacles) of life and feelings of defeat or hopelessness, our practice of yoga and meditation guides us gradually to see the struggles of life with clearer vision and bring forth from within the strength and wisdom to overcome our obstacles. In learning the art of yoga and meditation, we find the intuitive wisdom that reveals compassion as one of the many qualities built into our human nature. During those moments of quiet contemplation, we can find the needed nurturing of compassion for ourselves that inspires and enables us to extend our compassion to others.
Written by Dee Williams of SeattleYogaNews.com
Founder, Kanjin Yoga