Compassion is what happens in us when love connects deeply with suffering. This day long meditation retreat is an opportunity for us to come together to remember and deepen our connection with our inherent capacity to keep our hearts open with the suffering of pain, fear, anger and sorrow.
Compassion is a courageous attitude that stands up to harm to others, and the harm that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-denial, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves and others, motivate ourselves with kindness, care for others, and be fully human.Compassion is cultivated through the courage to mindfully be with the direct experience of anguish with an open heart.
Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. And self compassion is often where we need to start. First, to have compassion for others we must notice that they are suffering. If we ignore that homeless person on the street, we can't feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others' suffering so that our hearts respond to their pain. When this occurs, we feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that we offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when we feel compassion for another, it means that we realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. "There but for fortune go I." The ultimate expression of compassion is the realization that there is no self or other. There is just us. .
During this day together we will explore the three key components of self-compassion (identified by Dr. Kristin Neff in her book Self Compassion): self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and balanced, mindful awareness. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need. Common humanity opens us to others, so that we know we aren't alone. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can accept our experience with greater ease. Together they comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives. This loving presence is the foundation for compassionate action that seeks to reduce suffering in the world.
We will do meditation practices that cultivate mindfulness, kindness and a sense of our shared humanity. This day of meditation will include periods of sitting, walking and movement meditation. There will also be a Dharma talk and opportunity for personal sharing.