I feel like I'm pretty good at being compassionate.... to others. And like many people I give very little thought to being compassionate to myself.
But I know that to truly be more at peace it all has to start from within. Still, to be honest, I often go right to the traditional Chinese medicine place in my mind when I'm a total b*tch. I stop and I think, "Holy moly, am I ever stuck today!" or "Did I get extra heat in my system somehow because I am in a major funk?" (For those who aren't as versed in the TCM perspective on things, these are the two patterns of imbalance -being stuck and having excess heat - are the two patterns most directly associated with anger and irritability- I have a tendency towards both, but we've all got our things right!?) And every time I do this it does bring some relief, because every time I can say, "Yes, I am stuck because XYZ or Yes, I am hotter than usual because XYZ." (In today's case I can say yes to both and see the reason they are happening, but still...) And I know what to do from a TCM perspective to start correcting the problem, so that's good too, but...
I think doing this misses something.
I am suffering.
I deserve compassion.
I think of this lovely analogy from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Imagine a pine tree standing in the yard. If that pine tree were to ask us what it should do, what the maximum is a pine tree can do to help the world, our answer would be very clear: “You should be a beautiful, healthy pine tree. You help the world by being your best.” That is true for humans also. The basic thing we can do to help the world is to be healthy, solid, loving, and gentle to ourselves. Then when people look at us, they will gain confidence. They will say, “If she can do that, I can do that too!”
So anything you do for yourself, you do for the world. Don’t think that you and the world are two separate things. When you breathe in mindfully and gently, when you feel the wonder of being alive, remember that you’re also doing this for the world. Practicing with that kind of insight, you will succeed in helping the world. You don’t even have to wait until tomorrow. You can do it right now, today.
So today, when my pine tree feels like it's ready to snap and start a fire. I'm going to be extra kind to myself, because I won't just be doing it for myself, I'll be doing it for my family, and I'll be doing it for those of you who read this, and even though the ripples might be so tiny I'll feel a bit dramatic saying I'm doing it for the world, I am.
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