Have you ever found yourself standing in line for a ticket, when someone pushes in front of you saying they’re going to miss their train if they don’t get their ticket quickly? You have two choices, either to be really annoyed and irritated or to show compassion and extend forgiveness. Of course, you don’t know whether they would miss their train or not, as you don’t know their situation … but to extend your forgiveness by trying to put yourself in their shoes, to appreciate their situation is much harder to do. For all you know, they might have young children in daycare or school, and if they miss their train, they won’t be back in time to pick them up.
I’m fascinated on a spiritual level that many of us don’t always see that compassion is all about that deep level of connectiveness between ourselves and others. Being able to demonstrate compassion proves that we can push the boundaries of our tolerance and understanding beyond what we believe. It’s worth the time and effort to explore how to push that boundary of understanding further, and with practice it’s possible to become even more compassionate.
I find that mindfulness is a simple way to foster more compassion. For over 3,000 years people of all cultures have practiced the art of mindfulness. It’s a state of being that improves your overall emotional well-being by being more present in the moment, and in doing so, increases compassion for yourself and others. The act of mindfulness instills calm – both in the young and old alike. When you start to act mindfully, you become more aware of your feelings, and when those feelings become overpowering or cause you to feel out of control, it’s possible to reign them back and gain a more compassionate perspective – for yourself and others.
Using exercises to promote mindfulness, it’s possible to teach yourself to be more present in the moment, so that emotions don’t overwhelm you, and you create the space to let compassion in as well. No matter how busy life gets, try and make time for a mindfulness exercise every once in a while.
This week, here’s one simple mindfulness exercise, which I just call my; mindful walking exercise. It’s really quite simple and you can do it, like I do when I walk my dog.
Just schedule some time to take a walk, and as your stroll through your neighborhood, woods, or the countryside, try and notice things you haven’t noticed before, things that you’ve just not paid attention to. Notice the textures, the colors, the shapes and sounds. As you’re doing this, don’t make any noise yourself, don’t talk, listen to music … just absorb. Let all the sounds, colors, textures fill your mind and senses for a few minutes so your total consciousness is focused on where you are and what you’re noticing.
It’s simple! You’ll be amazed how you feel after as well as a sense of space in your mind.
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