Has anyone ever told you to ignore your heart’s response? So much of our socialization is about how to deny our heart’s response to our own suffering or to the suffering of others. Maybe we learned to ignore our heart’s response, or maybe we learned that it was too painful to listen to, or to listen with our heart. How many of us learned to be stoic or to suffer in silence because no one wanted to hear about our suffering? How many of us tell others to do the same thing when we are uncomfortable with what they are trying to share with us? How can we be compassionate with ourselves and others if we are denying our heart’s response?
Kindness and compassion comes from the heart. We all have this capacity by virtue of our humanity. Look how easily kindness and compassion is expressed in children. They immediately try to pat or rub the pain out of someone who is crying or hurting. They offer a toy to bring a smile to someone who is sad. They laugh or act silly to create laughter and lightness. It is a natural and easy expression of their humanity. Those who grew up and forgot their true nature still have this capacity because they have a heart – they are human.
Kindness and compassion are heart-felt. They are felt experiences in the body. They come from the heart, not the mind. They are action words when we are moved to do something as a result of our heart’s response. They are healing remedies to suffering because they help us to feel better. Compassion acknowledges suffering and wants to ease it. The mind responds to suffering with judgment, even if that response is to do nothing at all. Compassion heals what the mind cannot because it touches the heart, and that can only be felt.
A culture of shame and stigma has created a disconnect from our feelings and our bodies. We can go about our daily lives without paying any attention to our heart’s response to what we see and experience in the world. The end result is a culture that has dehumanized and demoralized people who are suffering, particularly those with health conditions, symptoms, impairments, or disabilities. We make assumptions about others, even those we don’t know. We write someone off as not mattering in our society if they demonstrate even the slightest expression of a health condition that makes us uncomfortable. People who need compassion to heal and feel better are those who have experienced illness, sickness, disease, injury, or trauma. They didn’t do anything wrong. They merely developed a health condition that manifests in a certain way and who now require a way to cope or heal from, not only a health condition, but from the shame and stigma of having developed or acquired that health condition. How can anyone thrive or heal and feel better in a culture of shame and stigma?
We cannot tell people to be more compassionate because compassion is heart-felt. It isn’t an intellectual exercise. No amount of thinking about compassion will result in compassionate responses. Compassion is a heart’s response that can bypass the mind so that we can ease suffering. If we ignore our heart’s response, we are not able to genuinely feel or express compassion. We cannot fully experience ourselves as whole. The whole of who we are includes being able to feel and care for ourselves and others in a way that is healing because it is our true nature to be kind and compassionate. Choosing compassion over judgment is a way to foster wholeness in both ourselves and in others. When we learn to connect with our bodies and fully appreciate ourselves as feeling beings, we can't help but to respond to suffering with our hearts. Kindness and compassion are healing remedies.
Copyright © 2017. Sylvia Carlson. All Rights Reserved.
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