Cultivating Inner Compassion

This Monday night, Laurie Cameron will facilitate. She shares:

I was at Magnolia Grove Monastery with my family one steamy autumn week when Thich Nhat Hanh taught us how to cultivate a heart of living with more happiness. He shared with us that there is no realm where there is only happiness and no suffering, that suffering is a part of our human experience. With mindfulness I have learned to acknowledge, allow and understand my suffering, know that it is part of being human, and meet it with kindness.  

Thay calls this ability to meet our suffering with kindness “inner compassion.” I love that expression – just saying it calms and soothes me. The image that comes to mind is from his illustration of inner compassion, comparing it to a mother tending to her crying baby.  Rather than harshness or scolding, a loving mother surrounds the baby with attention and compassion. This image is what guides me when I recognize my own suffering, and that I can meet it with the tenderness a mother holds for her suffering child. 

Mindful self-compassion has been life-changing for me.  As I connect to my innate capacity for compassion and direct it inward, I see shifts in how I navigate stressful life events. 

Inner compassion during hard times is not just about being kind – it can also give me motivation to take fierce, courageous action.  It can mean taking action to protect my daughter from wrong-doing at school, or for myself with an unfair business situation. Fierce inner compassion can help me define boundaries and make requests that will create conditions for well-being. Compassion brings both tenderness and courage. 

On Monday night I will share a story of a recent difficult experience and how the practice of inner compassion helped me navigate the suffering that arose. We will explore the components of mindfulness and compassion directed inward – and practices that help us nourish and deepen our capacity to direct compassion inward.  

Is there a recent experience that you found difficult- a loss, a failure, setback or challenge – where inner compassion could help you bring loving awareness to yourself?  Perhaps there is an ongoing challenge or situation in your life that could benefit from inner compassion. Try and sit in stillness with these questions and see what comes up. We can explore together on Monday.