It seems the more compassion is needed, the harder it is to come by. Over time, with repeated obstacles, failures, and daily difficulties, we start to shut down the feeling center of the body, and are consequently left adrift in a mode of survival, competition, and defensiveness. On the other hand, repeated successes, triumph, and praise can also lead the ego to the same place. Disconnected from the true source of our achievements, we're on edge -- defending our place on top.
When we are not actively practicing compassion for ourselves and others, resentment and frustration, over-reaching and striving, get stuck in the body as chronic pain, replay in the mind as limiting self-talk and rigid beliefs, and extend out into our relationships; preventing communication, support, personal and relational growth, and free-flowing appreciation.
But compassion leaves no room for these limits. Compassion is a trained response, just like anger and fear are trained reactions. Compassion is an out-reached hand, an offering of the heart to help alleviate suffering. The response of compassion requires us to dig past entitlement, expectation, and selfishness and reach into a territory of patience, breath, connection, and understanding. We need compassion like a fish needs water, like *we* need water, air, food, and yes -- love. We need compassion to survive! And moreover, to begin to thrive.
Compassion softens our hearts when they want to brace against the rough realities of life in this body, on this planet, in relationship to one another. But compassion is the window that lets a fresh perspective in, some fresh air to get out of our snap judgements and into our hearts.
We need compassion for ourselves, and to offer ourselves compassion often means we must extend that hand, and ask for help; whether from a loved one, a pen, or a higher power. Compassion means humility, realizing and accepting that we are not all-powerful individuals, and that in order to reduce suffering, we all need help.
We need compassion for one another -- it's the bridge between two hearts that leads to greater self-awareness and perhaps more refined choices in thoughts, words, and deeds. Compassion is the higher point of a triangle. Looking up towards that point for guidance, we can bring stability and comfort back down into the base while relating to another or our own selves.
In triangle pose, we can stretch space into the side body and rib cage and expand the range of breath. With deeper breath comes greater control of the mind, and with the mind subdued, we are better able to connect to the truth as it is in the moment, to listening and considering versus filtered and distorted ego-based misconceptions. In the posture, the arm reaching for the ground creates an anchor in opposition to the arm reaching for the sky, and the space along the upper back and in front of the heart begins to loosen.
This month, may your practice be rooted in consideration of how to alleviate suffering through patient loving. And as you experience difficult feelings and moments, may you always come to rely on the north star of compassion.
With love and compassion,
by Alexandra Moga