Empathy & Compassion
Checking in is especially important in Module 2. Take extra care to become aware of your current state, especially before the meditation. ➸
Pause and glance back. Have you:
- Done all the Preparation Work on the Welcome Page?
- All of Module 1?
- Scheduled your daily practice in your calendar?
- Scheduled your Deepening Work in your calendar?
No? Finish up all of that work first, then come back here and begin this module.
Yes? Pause. Deep breath. As many times as necessary to consciously cross the threshold into practice, allowing the rest of life to be put aside for later. Slowing down as a form of waking up and becoming present.
Note: Never, ever skip these pauses. They can prime you for a profoundly positive effect, and— perhaps more importantly– can also protect you emotionally on days when you’re more vulnerable than you realize.
Ready? Okay, let’s dive in.
Preface to Module 2
Below are text and audio versions of a Preface to Module 2. Both make the same points, though the Text Version is abbreviated. The Audio Version is more like an informal talk. Read or listen, then proceed to the Meditation and Other Work. ➸
Take a moment to reflect on all you’ve done so far. The Prepatory Work + Module 1 was a hefty load and an uphill walk. (The first hill is always the toughest because we have no momentum.)
Now, maybe you’re moving into Module 2 feeling a bit depleted. Maybe you feel resistance. All of this is normal.
Give yourself permission to feel the feelings beneath your Resistance. (That’s different than giving permission to be resistant.)
So, before we go forward, let me say this. You all seem on the right track. Noticing all the right things.
But. Regarding things you notice as “problems” or “difficulties” that you get stuck on, such as:
1. “All these things I’m wishing for my DP (Dedicated Person) to receive, I want all those same things…AND I ESPECIALLY want these things from them, my DP. So, repeatedly wishing these things for them every day is difficult…”
2. “It’s hard to practice with the same person every day for a month.”
The 2 important things to know about so-called problems/ difficulties such as these:
1. In Module 2, your view of your DP is likely to shift. You might even feel like you’re looking at a new person altogether. (Look at the VISUALIZATION instruction for Module 2 meditation.)
2. AND/ OR– you need to tweak your negative reaction to so-called probs/diffs. The rest of this email is about this approach… The “finding KEYS in your Inner Junkyard” (or whatever you’re calling that place you put things you don’t wanna deal with) from Module 1 is the positive approach to embrace.
Specifically, the tweak we’re making is… Stop reacting to so-called probs/diffs as things that need to be “fixed”, gotten over, discarded, ignored, or bypassed in some way.
You’re right to pause and give the 2 issues above your attention. But don’t hate. They have something positive to show you about YOURSELF.
Our world is simply built like this. Things we don’t face just keep coming up, which is annoying– until we realize these repeated alerts are pointing out the keys to our freedom and dreams.
Meet and greet keys with curiosity and respect. Make them your pet. Put them in your pocket, hold them close. Keep them in mind and keep going…
If your Dedicated Person becomes a distraction to the point you’re bogged down and not progressing, lighten up on the whole idea of a Dedicated Person.
Let it all be more about You. This is your journey, not theirs.
Your Dedicated Person is really just a mirror for you. When you look in the mirror, you look at yourself and not the mirror, right?
This isn’t a game or riddle. Deepening meditation practices by definition always ask us to:
- embrace discipline as a positive reinforcer, even when we feel negative about them
- get curious about the tuff stuff
- and, when in doubt, don’t long to stay in the safety of the shallows– investigate deeper
- Invite yourself out of your emotional shallows and dive in to your emotional deeps. Give some positive attention to the stuff you’ve been ignoring/ fighting/ trying to fix/ bypassing/etc.
What we know so well in THEORY takes way longer to get in ACTUALITY and in ACTION.
We wish our teachers would just TELL us these answers already rather than sending us on a search, but the really meaningful things in life are most meaningful when we find them ourselves, right?
Let your search be a fun one. No matter what you’re feeling or what happens, remember to wrap your experience up in lightheartedness. Work with a sense of experimentation and play. Be open to discovery and don’t always be so serious.
Now, go, Love, Great Beauty awaits you in Module 2… your own Inner Beauty, that is! Look in the mirror!
Step into your Dedicated Person’s shoes and walk their Hero’s Journey for awhile.
See and feel what they see and feel.
Really open your eyes– beyond your current assumptions– to see your Dedicated Person’s view.
Here are the definitions of Empathy & Compassion that we’re working under, according to Emotion Research:
EMPATHY is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, imagine what others might be thinking or feeling, understand others’ emotions and even MIRROR what others are experiencing.
COMPASSION is the feeling that arises when one person, confronted with another’s suffering, feels motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion is the result of empathy.
Empathy & Compassion Meditation
Note that this meditation has a specific VISUALIZATION you should use. ➸
Empathy & Compassion Text Version
Visualize your Dedicated Person as a younger version of themselves (baby, child, tween or teen) looking up at you openly as you hold their face in your hands. See in them not just their youth, but their innocence– who they were before life wounded them. (Some of their wounds might be directly related to the issues you have with them.)
May you forgive others.
May you accept others just as they are.
May you care for others.
May you be thankful for others in your life.
Pay close attention to your feelings and thoughts about yourself as you say the phrases and view your DP through the lens of empathy and compassion.
Like peering into a diamond to look at the many facets, peer deeply into your feelings to look for the facets in the feelings, into the thoughts that correspond to feelings to find the facets in the thoughts.
Notice how one broad feeling is actually made up of many smaller feelings, tones, textures,colors, sense of shape and so much more.
Do you notice that your feelings and thoughts about your DP trigger– and are triggered by– feelings and thoughts about yourself?
Empathy & Compassion Meditation Audio Version
Part 1. Contemplation Prompt, “The Key that Takes You Through the Looking Glass”. Because this prompt (in written form) is brief and practiced “in the field”, an audio version is unnecessary. ➸
Contemplate as you read through this.
Journal about it if you like, but at least once, contemplate without writing as you read. When necessary, take momentary pauses to let the questions sink in and/or to really get clear on what is arising.
We know our own story. (Or our version of it at least.)
How well do we know the story of our Dedicated Person? How much of that story have they told us themselves and how much of it have we created ourselves, in our own mind, choosing our own crayon colors?
We know what our own emotional pain feels like as it quakes and twists in our body.
We can’t really know what the pain of our Dedicated Person feels like.
Who knows why we make such hard assumptions about one another. Especially since we’re all ultimately mysterious, even to ourselves.
Take this Contemplation Work into the field of your everyday life.
As you walk around on the street or at work, as you get on and off mass transit or the elevator, notice the judgments you automatically make about others you encounter, those you know and those you don’t.
Especially notice the negative judgments.
Then, practice radiating warm, heartfelt feelings of Lovingkindness to others. Allow your mind to go “slack” so your thoughts about others are less prominent.
Lovingkindness might feel like a happiness inside you that extends beyond your body (like an aura might). Or perhaps it’s more like a friendly feeling of sweetness and openness, like a binding that has been around you has been unwound.
In both cases, negative (judging) and positive (Lovingkindness), notice:
- your mental state and mood.
- your body sensations.
- your body language and how you move.
- the body language of those around you.
What are the differences?
In either case, did anyone mirror you in any way? How?
Now, focus on yourself. Did you benefit from radiating Lovingkindness? How?
Was there anything about the radiation of Lovingkindness that wasn’t so pleasant? What?
2. Digging Exercise. Now, dig deeper. Be open to uncovering new facets and “keys” within your current view of yourself right along with that of your Dedicated Person. ➸
Flow through the questions intuitively. Open, relax and listen for answers. Don’t deliberate, answer fairly quickly. If you have time, pass through the questions more than once, uncovering meaning in layers.
- _____ can forgive others for…..
- _____ tends to accept others when…..
- _____ cares for others by……
- _____ can feel thankful for _(names of others) …..
- What positive thing does ______ not realize about his/her self?
- What positive thing does ______ not realize about me?
- Any similarities between the way I’m compassionate (or not) for ______ and the way I’m compassionate towards myself?
- How is ______ a mirror that helps me to see myself?
- If I walked through that mirror and actually stepped into _______’s body to become them, a lot about me would necessarily change. Disregarding the changes. More significant is what about me would remain exactly the same after I “became” them?
That’s all for Module 2, Empathy & Compassion.
Congratulations on getting it done!
Ready for the BONUS materials? There’s 2 great videos about the Hero’s Journey.
Ready for the BONUS Material?
Guidelines for All Modules (1 -4):
- Look at your Dedicated Person from different angles until you find the “side” of them that fits the language in the phrases. For example, if “May you be forgiven” doesn’t feel appropriate (perhaps you’re feeling like the one that needs to be forgiven) view them from the universal angle, where everyone has things to be forgiven for.
- If the above approach doesn’t work. use words that resonate with you or feel more appropriate for the person you’re practicing with and the nature of your relationship with them. For example, you can substitute “appreciated” for “accepted” or use “cared for” in place of “loved”. (This applies to each meditation in each module, not just Module 1.)
- Visualize this person, look at their photo, sense what it’s like to be in their presence, feel how they make you feel or reflect upon prominent moments in your relationship.
- Once you start to open, let the images, words, memories, sensations, realizations arise– what ever arises, let it come. Continually softening and continuously breathing smoothly will make you strong. This is the stuff that heroes are made of.
- However, avoid dwelling on any issue in a way that doesn’t seem really productive. There’s a difference between letting feelings fully flow and getting mired down or taking on baggage.
- You can imagine breathing directly into and out of the heart, and/or place your hand on your heart. As you breath into your heart, observe any sensations you feel precisely in that area or arising from there. Note the sensation silently in your mind with a one-word descriptor: expansive, warm, tight, hard, open, aching, jumping, softening, etc.
- Abandon the urge to figure out why you’re feeling what is present. Let everything be what it actually is. Just notice what you notice and keep going.
- Shift your focus to yourself at any point you need to. Keep in mind, however, that practicing with your chosen person as often as possible is your core practice in Lovingkindness 2.0.
- Feel nothing? Join the club. Get curious about this so-called nothing. Look closer. Or just keep going, letting this “nothing” fully manifest moment to moment. Eventually, it might become “something”.
Deepening Work Guidelines:
- The day(s) you do your deepening work, also do your meditation. Deepening work is meant to occur alongside meditation.
- You might look over your notes from other days to help you answer the prompts in the deepening work.
- You might find yourself reflecting on these questions at odd times throughout the week. Listen to how you “talk” in these reflections, notice how you feel. Notice if there’s a particular time of day or a particular experience that triggers you to reflect on the prompts, your meditation and all the work you’re doing in Lovingkindness 2.0.
Weekly Consultation Guidelines:
- Weekly consults are optional, but not any less important than any of the work you’ll do in Lovingkindness 2.0.
- Consultations are not just about troubleshooting, so think again if you hear something like this going on in your head, “I’m doing okay with this, I’ll skip the consult.”
- Consults are also about savoring, deepening insight and opening doors– the stuff you want MORE of when you’re “doing well.”
- You’ll enjoy these conversations, and get real life practice at “Opening Up and Reaching Out”.
- Let me know asap if you need to cancel. Via email, or for less than 24 hours notice, text me: 415 531 8439
- Re-scheduling requires at least 24 hours notice.
- Each participant will only be allowed one re-scheduled appointment.