We all throw around the word compassion, as if it will cure everything. ‘Just have some compassion!’ We tell ourselves, or our partners, or even people we don’t even know.
But what does the word compassion really mean? What would it take to really be able to feel compassion? These questions have been in my head for awhile now, and recently, a great understanding was revealed to me. I was listening to a talk by Gregg Braden and he had this definition of compassion:
emotion without charge
Feeling without distortion
Thought without attachment
If we can achieve this clarity in ourselves and our body, so that we are not triggered or projecting in the moment, but just able to be present, then we have the possibility of feeling compassion for another being.
I really liked this definition, especially because it encompasses all aspects of our Selves, our body feeling, our emotions, and our mind and thoughts.
So, what would it look like to have emotion without charge? I believe it would be like someone being able to feel truly sad when sharing a moment with a grieving friend over the death of their dog perhaps. Not needing to fix anything for them, not needing any attention or thanks in return, just being there and sharing a sad moment.
So often our sadness for instance, gets overshadowed by guilt or burden. We feel we should have done better at recommending a longer living pet, or we will now have to be there for them more now that they have lost their pet, and part of us dreads the responsibility. All of these things would add a ‘charge’ to our sadness, something that we need to deal with before we can fully be present and share the sadness.
What about feeling without distortion? Can we just feel a sensation in our body, without it getting distorted in our mind? Can we fully feel our body, while receiving a hug from our partner? Or do we distort the pleasurable feeling of the pressure of their body against ours by imagining they are being needy for instance. Maybe we sigh inside because we aren’t in the mood for being supportive, and now we feel we have to be? We have lost the simple pleasure of feeling the hug, it has been distorted by our thoughts, fears and our own state of being in the moment. What a loss!
Thought without attachment is something that is also talked about a lot, but rarely practiced. I know I have had thoughts, the ones that go around and around my head when I’m stressed. The ones that don’t let me relax, they keep nagging at me. Do you know the ones I mean? They feel like they are attached with Velcro to me and they stick! It is hard to let go and again it stops me being fully present to what is happening right now.
If I am not able to be present NOW, then I cannot be feeling compassion, it is something else. Being able to feel compassion, I believe, requires us to learn how to get our needs met, and to work with our shadow side, and probably to meditate or do some kind of mind training as well. It is not so easy!
Is it worth learning? Well, I think if more of us focussed on finding true compassion, there would be a lot less suffering in the world. Less pain, less betrayal and manipulation, less abuse, and less victim mindset. More love!
Compassion is something we train for, we become better human beings. Compassion requires self-knowledge and an openness and courage to face ourselves, all of ourselves. This is the kind of work I do with myself, my partner and family and my clients. This is the kind of work I would love to help you with also!
Book a free consult and let’s talk about your feelings, your emotions and your thoughts. Do they help you break free from your own suffering or do they keep you in pain? Somatic coaching can help begin this process of learning compassion, first for yourself, and then for others. Let’s talk!