Today during my daily practice of meditation, a particular person came to mind. I felt a deep sense of openness towards this person and what they are going through. So I engaged in a compassion practice and started directing loving-kindness and compassion towards them. Strangely when I was directing compassion towards this person, I suddenly got the felt feeling of the visualization of this person directing compassion towards me and us joining our hands.
3 main elements
This experience made me remember of how Neff (2003) argues that compassion has three main elements:
- Mindfulness – which is the prerequisite and basis of meditation but not sufficient on its own. Rather employed skillfully it helps us hold painful thoughts, feelings in an open balanced awareness without becoming fused with them.
- Kindness – being kind to oneself and others in instances of pain and failure rather than engaging in harsh criticism of oneself or others
- Common humanity – that we all experience suffering and perceiving such experiences as part of a larger human experience. Rather than something that separates us or isolates us.
Flow of compassion
Such I would consider reflected in the of being open to others suffering a wanting for that suffering to stop and embracing others with kindness and compassion. But not only as in this experience I felt the visualization of the person I was directing compassion to started directing compassion towards me. This reflects that compassion is something that is common to us all that unites us as Neff (2003) says it’s our common humanity. It also brought to mind what Gilbert and Choden (2014) say in their book that compassion isn’t unidirectional but a dynamic flow reflected in actions of love and kindness towards each other.
Gilbert, P., & Choden. (2014). Mindful compassion. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Neff, K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85-101. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860309032