Now that we have some simple steps fill our own Cup of Compassion from Part I, let’s discuss the benefits of practicing a compassionate life when the world around us may not always feel so kind. In the world of natural health, we say “we get a healing when we give a healing.” And, so, we enhance our own wellbeing by working to enhance the wellbeing of the world around us.
And, it is indeed a practice. At times, it can be a struggle. Like any practice, it requires an intention and a striving to stay grounded in that intention with gentle persistence. Without an intention to live a compassionate life, I find I can just get buffeted around by unkindness around me. I absorb that energy and become reactive.
This triggers the fight or flight condition and my stress levels increase. The more I feel unmoored from a compassionate heart, the more negative thoughts are able to rule my mind creating stories about others and heightening my sense of anxiousness as I enter into a sense of defensiveness and self-protection. And, then, I become part of the problem by contributing my crabbiness in a reactive mode as I flail around in choppy waters.
But, when I empower myself, by making the conscious choice to stay in a proactive mode of positivity, I feel much more anchored and sheltered in the calm of potential storms.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” — Mahatma Gandhi
So, with wisdom handed down from gifted healers and thought leaders who have been part of my healing journey, I have developed a personal practice of living a compassionate life. Not only does it help me stay well within, I am hopeful it contributes to the wellbeing of the world around me. And, because we are human, this is never a perfect practice. Support is important. And, as always, I find aromatherapy to be my perfect partner by helping to calm my mind and body, as well as inspiring a deep sense of peace within.
Be The Ripple in the Pond
If I am a pebble in the pond, what is the energy I am putting out there? In Food for Thought, we learned how negative thoughts can influence our wellbeing. How I am feeling inside can affect how I react and interact.
Not only am I balancing the wellbeing of myself, I create the opportunity to positively impact the moment I interact with others. It can simply be that vibe we feel when we cross paths.
A big part of my healing journey is learning to be peaceful within. Equanimity – calmness of mind in stressful situations – does not come naturally to me. It had to be cultivated. In fact, if I allow it, folks who are unkind can really flip my switches from the flow of happy juice to stress cocktail.
In Take a Breath and Cool Your Jets, we learned how stress starts in the mind and contributes to serious health conditions. Am I in the “fight or flight” mode of the stress response when I am out and about? Or, are I am radiating a peaceful energy of calm, kindness, and compassion?
Years ago, When I was an undergraduate in a psychology class, I was assigned to a smile experiment. It involved making eye contact with everyone I passed – on campus, at the mall, in a restaurant, at the store – just in every day life –and smiling and recording responses. I was astounded at the number of people who smiled back with genuine pleasure, and often, with surprise. It made such an impression on me, that it is still a habit I practice today. I am still often amazed at how it changes the energy around me, while it charges my own.
Choose To Let It Go
If I carry around perceived or felt hurts or slights, I am taking on the negative energy put out by others. This can be hard for sensitive folks like me.
Trust me, I can be taken way out of my Zen Zone if I feel my wellbeing is being threatened either intentionally or through negligence. And, I’m not talking about turning the other cheek when it comes to big societal ills. Those are discussions for another time and another approach.
What I am talking about are the everyday concerns. Someone didn’t say thank you. A co-worker was brusque. Your spouse came home grumpy. Your friend was late for a night out. Am I going to react, take on that energy, and let it weigh me down? If I do, I am giving away my own power over my own wellbeing.
I can choose how I am going to react and respond. This is where taking a few deep breaths to turn off that fight or flight stress response can be helpful. That also gives me time to calm my reaction and change the dialogue in my head from “wow she is really being a witch today, to “wow, she is not herself at all today, I wonder what is wrong?” Just that compassionate change in my mindset, creates a more peaceful change in my body. Not only am I letting go of the issue, I am letting go of the tension I feel.
Meet Them With Compassion
This doesn’t meant accepting bad behavior. But, sometimes it means either walking away and discussing at another time if merited, or meeting them with compassion and seeing what happens.
At the health practice where I spend some time, our patients are often grumpy, short on patience, and sometimes, just short of rude when they first come to us. But, I have been on that side of the aisle. They are also hurting, stressed, overwhelmed, fearful and frustrated. I believe their healing experience starts with the energy and interactions they feel when they walk through the front door. So, my goal is to meet them with compassion. A smile when they come in, kindness while they are there, and hug (for the huggers) when they leave. It’s amazing how much most of them relax. This creates a healing environment for their wellbeing, and my own inner being benefits from more peaceful exchanges that can literally change from barking at me to laughing with me.
The point is, we don’t know what folks around us are experiencing and we don’t know their stories. We don’t know if something just happened, or if something terrible is going on in their lives. The day I held my beloved canine companion of 15 years in my lap as she passed over to the Rainbow Bridge was absolutely heartbreaking. As I moved through the world in a dismal fog for days after, who knows what I projected around me and the stories people may have told themselves in reaction. Maybe I didn’t park correctly, or perhaps I accidentally cut someone off in the grocery line. Or, maybe I just didn’t smile when I ordered my coffee in the drive through. What I do remember is the folks who didn’t know my story, but met me with kindness anyway and how much that helped to sooth and smooth my heartache.
Reflect the Glow for Good
I have always been drawn to dragonflies. And, they seem to be drawn to me. Many years ago, I looked up their symbolic meaning and learned that the dragonfly represents the power to reflect light and energy out into the world for the good of others. This resonated with me deeply as I was pursuing my path in the natural healing arts. I adopted the dragonfly as my spiritual reminder of this message of empowerment for impacting those around me in a positive way. Every time a see a dragonfly, I am reminded I have the power and the choice to reflect a glow for good both professionally and personally.
Yes, there are cranky and crabby folks out there. But, there also those filled with grace and kindness. And, that is whom I choose to focus on and absorb the energy to be redirected for my next interaction.
Recently, I was leaving a store just as the skies opened up in a drowning drenching. Of course, I did not have my umbrella with me and my car was parked across a large lot. Just in the moment I was exiting the store to be confronted by this dilemma, a gentleman was just arriving at the doors with his wife under a giant umbrella for two. As she was passing me into the store, without missing a beat, he said “you go ahead honey, I am going to escort this young lady to her car.” And with that, he had already pivoted toward the parking lot, placed the umbrella over my head and simply said “which way is your car, Miss?”
I can’t even describe the rush of gratitude and goodwill I felt at that moment by such a seemingly simple act of compassion on his part, but I simply smiled (probably beamed) and carried on to my car with my unexpected escort. And, I carried that warm glow the rest of the day, basking in it and letting if affect my mood and outlook on the world as I passed by a multitude of other in my daily rounds. More importantly, I am reminded, no matter how much of a rush I am in, it only takes a moment to extend a simple act of kindness to others who could benefit from an assist. I may be flitting around like a dragonfly, but in that moment, I can still reflect positive vibes and an act of kindness.
So, I admit, living a compassionate life isn’t always an easy practice. But, a practice it is. It is a conscious choice to be the ripple in the pond, let things go, meet folks with compassion, and reflect the glow for good. I mentioned how aromatherapy is my perfect partner, and I’ve created synergies to support these sensibilities depending on the situation. These can be used in a diffuser or tripled to carry with you in a personal inhaler.
2 drops geranium bourbon
2 drops neroli
1 drop orange sweet
This is my go-to, when I need a little boost to balance my being by letting go of strong turbulent emotions
2 drops ho wood
2 drops kunzea
1 drop sandalwood
Relaxing and grounding to the mind, body and spirit. This blend is often helpful to set a blissful mood.
1 drop blue cypress
1 drop davana
2 drops bergamot
1 drop sandalwood
Relaxing, centering, uplifting and calming. I like this blend to help me return to a place of peace.
I know I feel better by doing better for those around me. It is really my choice. Do I want to continually drink the poison of the stress cocktail, or do I want to bathe my being in happy juice? I know when I experience inner peace, I am more able to transmit that back out into the world. And, I can create that by being the calm in the storm. When I do, while all may not be right with the world, all is right with my world right now. And, perhaps, just a bit of that helps another looking for their own piece of peace.