Reminders for Your Psychological and Physical Health
If you desire to be more compassionate with others and with yourself, remember the following.
Be certain to ACT on the following.
1) Life is complete only with joy/happiness, neutral experiences, and suffering/pain. These are the realities of human existence. These are the conditions of human life. Make the most of your contentment and happiness without clinging; learn to accept and live with the boredom of neutrality; and, face mindfully with radical acceptance all forms of suffering you encounter.
2) Your genetic, evolutionary biology has much to do with the level of compassion you experience. In times of high stress reactivity, your emotional brain centers (fear, reactivity, survival) often overcome your more rational, executive brain areas. When you are reacting with dysregulated biologically-based emotional energies, stop to breathe and activate your executive brain. Then THINK how to be calmly mindful right NOW, in this specific situation. Then apply a wise mind skill. The sequence is one of stability, thought, then behaviors. No impulsivity!
3) Your psychology has much to do with your level of compassion. You will have little compassion if you are an entitled, ego-centric person, who believes the most important aspect of life is personal self-interest/greed – the “I, Me, Mine” first attitudes. If you desire more compassion – as well as self-compassion for your own suffering – there is great need to work on modifying this level selfishness. There are great emotional rewards for being a more compassionate person.
4) From Buddhism we hear that true compassion stems from thoughts, speech, and actions. When we activate compassionate thoughts, words, and behaviors we help others and ourselves. All people desire happiness; all people desire less suffering. Compassionate actions are those that place others first (before your own self-interests) and reduce or prevent suffering in others.
5) Utilize “Quintiliani’s” views on CABS-VAKGO-IS-Rels. The person I am depends upon my thoughts. emotions, and behaviors – all of which stems from sensory input, memory and experience (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory – or sight, hearing, touch/sensations, smell and taste). The CABS-VAKGO aspects of living are influenced by out intuition and spirituality, and activate within the context of relationships with others. This is the whole story of who/what we are. Use each part of your holistic being to be more compassionate. Begin to practice with thoughts on intentions.
6) As Gilbert and Choden note: Practice “philanthropia” (love for all) and recognize that Compassion is “the fundamental agent of transformation.” (p. 93) The great hope is to experience bodhichitta, or the awakened heart-mind of compassion.
7) Neff also reminds us of some very important aspects of self-compassion. It is multidimensional, multisensory, involves kindness, and radical acceptance of human suffering – our own and that of others. We must be motivated to express compassion inwardly and outwardly. We must hold a cognitive world view on what is necessary to prevent or reduce suffering. Also, we must possess the courage to act on the intention and the caring heart. Intuition and emotional intelligence influence our actions. Without direct action there is little benefit of compassion or self-compassion. To be most powerful, compassion must be activated.
8) The Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) reminds us that compassionate action begins with self-compassion practices. Without a level of self-compassion, it is unlikely that general compassion will be effective.
9) In the end, it is active emotional and behavioral engagement with others that counts. If we ride the energetic wave of compassionate action, we help others and ourselves. We experience intense emotional rewards.
For more information refer to Gilbert, P. and Choden (2014). Mindful Compassion… Oakland, CA: New Harbinger and also Neff. K. (2011). Self-Compassion…New York: Morrow.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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