What is compassion really? Sharing the sorrow of another? Helping or supporting someone in need? Sending someone a tiny prayer of thanksgiving, or of loving kindness, or of hope, or of sunshine when they need it most. Perhaps it's absorbing the sadness or discomfort you see in someone for the sake of releasing it for them. This is the way compassion feels to me.
It's easy to feel compassion for people I care about--my friends, family, pets, the usual suspects, but I try to stretch myself a bit more to include people I don't know. I like to practice sending loving kindness to people that I don't understand, or people that really piss me off, or folks that I completely disagree with. I ask you to stretch yourself today too. Notice someone that you typically avoid for some reason and take a moment to simply send them some loving kindness; a tiny prayer of calm, patience, or peace might just do the trick. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't know what a person's back-story is, and sometimes it's a story that I wouldn't understand but that needs a lot of love anyway. Try it today; stretch your loving kindness muscle.
I also like to extend myself some compassion when I feel uncomfortable. When I'm around a lot of people that I don’t know, or that don’t look like me, talk like me, or act like me I start to feel awkward. This describes me at every social gathering known to man, but what suprises me is sometimes the older teenagers in my neighborhood make me feel self-conscious. The crazy thing is I used to teach kids just like them, but still as a group I get uneasy these days because I'm not their teacher so they don't know me very well. I'm sure they're all very nice, but they are louder than me, stronger than me, and they stare at me sometimes. This is when I start to feel uneasy. I smile and wave a self-conscious little wave and internally I send them a tiny prayer. I say in my head, “Be happy; be safe.” By doing this I feel as though I've comforted myself and extended kindness to them.
For today look around you, find the folks that need your silent wish of compassionate kindness and send it off on the breeze. The homeless guy on the corner, the co-worker or boss who irritates you, the child on the playground standing alone, the tired looking man or woman with the world heavy on their shoulders, there are multitudes of people who just need a simple wish of happiness, joy, peace, and love.
Send it with a small smile and go about your day. You never know what you just set in motion for their life.