Jon Kabat-Zinn writes that mindfulness and compassion are 2 wings of a bird. Being mindful helps us to unlock our compassionate side. We are naturally compassionate, we just need to cultivate it thru mindfulness practices. Also mindfulness helps us see our interconnectedness with other people. According to Shauna Shapiro of Santa Clara University, if the left hand has a splinter in it, the right hand would naturally pull it out.The left hand wouldn’t say to the right, “Oh, thank you so much! You’re so compassionate and generous!” The right hand removing the splinter is simply the appropriate response— because the two hands are part of the same body.
The more you practice mindfulness, the more you see that we’re all part of the same body—that as the right hand, I actually feel, the left hand’s, ie your pain and I naturally want to help. Mindfulness cultivates this interconnectedness and clear-seeing, which leads to greater compassion and understanding of the mysterious web in which we all are woven.
Mindfulness is the English equivalent of the Pali words sati and sampajana – meaning ‘to remember to pay attention to what is occurring in one’s immediate experience with care and discernment’.
Research shows that mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself and that such attitudes are even good for you. However, self-compassion doesn’t mean we are always filled with feelings of happiness and lovingkindness. It means is that our awareness of what’s happening is always kind, always compassionate. So even if I’m feeling angry or frustrated, I am embracing my experience with a compassionate awareness. When we begin to welcome our experience in this way, we are better able to be with it, see it clearly, respond appropriately to it—and, as research suggests, we will strengthen the skills that help us extend compassion toward others.
One evening an old Cherokee grandfather told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil – it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked: “Which wolf wins?” The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
What we practice becomes stronger.
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Einstein
“Yesterday is a memory – Tomorrow is the unknown – And now, is the knowing.” – the Buddha
One big fish is swimming out as he passes two small fish swimming in. The big fish says to the small fish “cool water, boys”!
One small fish turned to the other and said “what the hell is water?”