MoK: Compassionate Connections

Even in times of trouble or pain, authentic compassion can connect us to others in a very meaningful way. If most of us stopped to consider it fully, we would have a greater appreciation for compassion as a positive, binding and powerful force in our lives.

When we feel good we call compassion friendship. It’s when we share in someone else’s life and life feels better that way, no matter what’s happening. When you stop to really think about why your friends are your friends, you’ll tend to think of the times when you bonded over particularly awesome, or particularly terrible circumstances.

Our relationship highs and lows are what bracket the known limits of a friendship. For some people that means they’ll be invited to every party but they wouldn’t help you move on a long weekend. For others it means you may have anointed each other as best friends at your weddings, but maybe you also had to share a kidney. None of these are right or wrong, they’re just what frames your relationship with that person.

Compassion is the force that both establishes and maintains our relationships. The more people we feel compassionate toward the more connected we feel. If we want a better world we don’t have to make friends with people we’re already friends with, we have to find ways to connect to those we feel are quite different.

Today your assignment in the March of Kindness is to simply watch for an opportunity for compassion with someone you normally wouldn’t think to share it with. Maybe they’re a stranger, or maybe you know them too well and have never even considered enhancing the bond between you. Maybe it’s boss to employee, or child to parent, or teacher to student, or maybe you just never even talk to strangers to help them feel more comfortable.

You’re not looking for something big, just look someone in the eye for long enough that they know you mean it, and connect with them. It can be in words or actions or even non-actions. It doesn’t matter if all you’re saying is something as small as thanks for stopping at the crosswalk, or something as big as sharing in the death of a loved one, it all counts.

The point is only that moment of connection. If we all did this consciously every day then everyone would feel seen, heard and appreciated much more than we all do know. And why don’t we do this otherwise? Mostly because we’re lost in egocentric thought, and that’s the very point of these exercises. To get us out of our heads and back into the world.

We’re not trying to make some huge change overnight. But during one month, we’re actually consciously improving our relationships with others, the world and ourselves. And by practicing it each day, we really do become more sensitive, aware and responsive.

Your assignment is one compassionate connection before the day’s end. If you do more, you’ll benefit more; that’s up to you. But even that one example will make you more conscious of the value of these connections, and as each of us makes these intentional choices each day, we all add our individual drops to the collective bucket of a better world.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Violence of the Soul

1089-relax-and-succeed-the-most-important-thing-in-communicationLast week we worked to undermine some of your ego’s sense of control by showing you that an ego is largely unconsciously shaped by the world around you. This week we’ll talk about enacting the real you instead of a thought-based fake you. Let us begin by introducing you to your soul.

Souls are the attractive force in the universe. Souls are like spiritual gravity. If it was up to soul then All that ever is or was would be united. Ego is the repellant force. Ego is the one that pushes things away. Ego creates separateness just as soul creates unity. Egos approve or disapprove, they rank right over wrong, good over bad, and me over you. Egos judge. Your soul allows. It always approves, it always accepts. Egos think and emote, souls feel and connect.

What this looks like in everyday life is this: a woman is home alone, depressed about her lonely state, feeling unfocused, and she’s attacking herself in her thoughts and she vows to never inflict herself on society until she’s fixed her broken self. She is trapped by her ego.

1089-relax-and-succeed-no-matter-what-youre-doingA few months later the same woman could then be functioning from a soulful place. Without the noisy intrusions of her ego she feels whole. Her alone-time feels rich and peaceful. Rather than attack herself, she nurtures her deepest self. And because she gives herself this peaceful time, she can sense that tomorrow she will feel like reconnecting with the outside world again, and so she finds herself motivated and inspired to make contact with others to arrange more connections.

The point this week will be to explain in detail as to why the second woman should be seen as being at peace while the first woman should been seen as terribly violent. Physical violence also fits in this expanded idea of violence, but the best way to fix physical violence is to stop metaphysical violence and so we’ll focus on that.

Our first step in doing this will be for you to become more aware of your violent behaviour. And we won’t shy away from calling it violent. I’m sure you dislike being referred to that way, so that’s good. If you don’t like the feeling then you’ll want it to go away, and since the only way to do that is to be nonviolent–voilà.

1089-relax-and-succeed-when-you-call-yourselfYou and a friend are in a book club. You meet to discuss your latest book. They say they loved it and you hated it. A violent person might say, “I can’t believe you would like that piece of crap. I think that might be the worst book I’ve ever read.” The violent person’s ego challenges the person’s credibility, then they define their taste as inferior, and then they insult something their friend just described as beloved. That’s pretty violent.

Same situation. A non-violent person might say, “I am so glad someone found a way into this book to enjoy it. I found it inaccessible, so I’m extra-interested in the discussion group tonight. I want to expand my perspectives so that next time I could draw more value from a work like this.” That is grateful, congratulatory, humble, inviting and optimistic, and yet it also conveys that they did not enjoy the book. That person is nonviolent.

Today your meditation is simple: For as many as you can be aware for, try to assess whether a conversation is violent or nonviolent, (whether you’re in it or not). Moreover, whenever it’s reasonably possible, see if you can alter the conversation to move it in a more nonviolent direction.

1089-relax-and-succeed-love-joy-love-faith-love-unityYou will have achieved success with this meditation when you either stop yourself from using violent phrasing and you switch it to a nonviolent statement, or when you manage to convert someone else’s violent discussion into a nonviolent one. Kudos if you do both.

This exercise will do wonders for your awareness and it will ask you to use the vision of your soul and not the filters of your ego. The more you practice it the simpler and clearer the world will become, and you will be profoundly nonviolent. To ensure you’ve fully grasped them, if you’re working with a partner, make sure to inform each other of what your conversions were.

Violent to nonviolent. Find one, alter it, and you will have done a lot toward your spiritual development and peace of mind. Have a great day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Rewarding Discomfort

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-reason-people-awakenYesterday we did a meditation that was designed to help you recognise that you and everyone around you is viewing things from a perspective. Without even noticing it, you too belong to a perspective group. Even if you’re in one of the most popular groups, that’s still includes fewer people than you might think.

Even with someone from a very different background or culture, you will have a lot more commonalities than differences if your perspective is similar. A very aggressive and social personality that lives in rural Zimbabwe will have more in common with an aggressive, social, urban Japanese person than they will with a fellow rural Zimbabwean who’s passive and introverted.

Can you see that for this reason, when you ask people for advice only a small percentage of people will say anything truly useful? Most people will tell you what a mind like theirs would do, but that’s based on their own experiences and the resulting capabilities. They can’t really tell you what you should do. It’s still good to hear other ideas regardless, because those do help you find the one that’s truly yours. But don’t look at some great person and think you should do what they did just because they’re great. You don’t get great by being a certain way, you realise your greatness by being courageous enough to be yourself.

1072-relax-and-succeed-never-stop-lovingWhy do people need courage to be themselves? If you’re not out there actually trying to physically harm anyone and you’re not trying to undermine loving relationships, then what made you think that the way you are is unacceptable?

Because most people don’t know what it is to act without the social fear of not belonging. Societies are set up to give you some lines to walk between. Every society has their own lines, but the group you want to get yourself into starts to ignore the directions of the lines and instead they focus on why you or anyone else is going the way you are. They don’t care if you’re lined up with the lines anymore, you only care if you actions are loving or not.

Today your job is to find times where you were courageous and times where you were cowardly. You’re not a better person when you’re courageous, but when you’re courageous you will act more naturally. It’s our nature to be loving, so you can see how the ego-view can be confusing if it overlaps with a societal rule.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-primary-teachingIf you view people from an ego perspective, nice behaviour can appear loving when really it’s just professional or possibly even a performance for others. That kind of niceness eventually turns into a poison because it’s motivated by abstract ideas like duty or correctness, rather than being like the core of all spirituality, which emerges from love.

You may never have noticed it, but if you’re in alignment with the Tao even you can feel pretty good about failing as long as it’s in a loving direction. At worst your loss is poignant. But you can do the right thing as far as the rules are concerned and still you’ll be tortured if you didn’t follow the Tao. No matter how technically correct he or she is, it’ll still be painful for a Detroit sheriff to throw out an unemployed single mom and her kids because she owes on her water bill.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-world-doesnt-want-to-be-savedToday’s meditation asks you to find four instances in your life: two where you did something technically correct but it felt terrible, and two where you broke the rules but it felt right. And as with all of these meditations, the idea isn’t just to find them and write them in like test answers. The value is in really looking at the event from your new perspective. Revisit these times that you wouldn’t have were it not for these meditations. Look at them closely. Recognise your own courage. See it’s value.

Two each. Look for the big ones. The ones that stuck with you. They can be big or small to the outside world, but these are the ones that bring you shame or a healthy sense of pride. See that those feelings are not actually aligned with society’s lines. See that those feelings are aligned with you, because you are aligned with something much more significant than some lines in the sand.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.