“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
Living well takes practice and is facilitated by striving to stay open to deep relationships and connection with ourselves, our communities, and with God. Below are suggestions for exercises that contribute to being compassionate. Consider engaging one or more of these practices through the week.
Practice Seeing the Beauty in the Stranger
· On your morning commute, on a busy street, while going about your errands, intentionally look at the people who are sharing the space with you. And, say aloud or in your mind, "They are a child of God. God loves them as God loves me." This practice also works especially well for people you may not be getting along with.
Engage in a Practice of Focused Forgiveness
· Take about 15 minutes out to search your heart for any situation where you feel a block in your capacity to extend compassion. Think of the parties involved. They may be a parent, a co-worker, an institution or corporation, or yourself. Without erasing the harm or shaming yourself, make the choice from that moment to imagine the outcomes of continuing in this situation without compassion. Then, as you feel ready and with prayer, make a choice to choose a better outcome by extending compassion and empathy to yourself and the other.
Watch a Documentary About or Read an Autobiography from the Experience of Someone Who Seems Much Unlike Yourself
Consider the unique circumstances that have converged to help make this person or people group as they are. Attempt to feel with them their own experiences without judgment and with the capacity to embrace fully their beauty and humanity.