“It all starts with loving-kindness for oneself, which in turn becomes loving-kindness for others. As the barriers come down around our own hearts, we are less afraid of other people. We are more able to hear what is being said, see what is front of our eyes, and work in accord with what happens rather than struggle against it.”
The forgiveness course is about making space for more love, peace and forgiveness in our hearts and in our lives. Each week has a specific focus and last week our focus was compassion. I shared with students my definition of compassion:
Compassion is our capacity to love – without the story attached to it. It’s the acts of doing and the heart of being. It’s being our own best friend & having the capacity to befriend others.
I ask students in the course to share how they show themselves loving-kindness and compassion. We take time to reflect and write down a few ways we are compassionate with ourselves. In every course, many students struggle to name ways of how they treat themselves with loving-kindness and compassion. It reminds me of how hard we are on ourselves and that giving comes from our capacity to give to ourselves too. Compassion is our ability to find relief and lead with our hearts.
It took me years to be compassionate with myself after coming out. For so long all I wanted to do was run and hide. Before coming out over 15 years ago, I had no idea how to be loving with myself so how could I expect others to be loving towards me? With support and time, I learned about the capacity to love – first myself, and then others. I had to release “the story” of self-hatred and become my own best friend. My capacity to love is deeper than it has ever been.
The invitation is to practice compassion with yourself. Notice ways you show yourself loving-kindness. Ask how does loving-kindness and compassion show up in my life and HOW do I respond when it does?
As the Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Mary Anne Flanagan
Mary Anne Flanagan is a shamanic healer and teacher, certified Life Coach, and facilitator in New York.