If you live in the St. Louis area, an in-person study group started working with this book and will continue for the next few months. Let me know if you’d like to join us and I’ll you hook you up!
If you’d like to share a post about what you learned about compassion (The First Step) or what you’re seeing in your world (The Second Step), self-compassion (The Third Step), or empathy (The Fourth Step) use the link list below. Or join the discussion in the comments or on Facebook.
It’s the last Sunday of the month. That’s the day that I take a piece of advice from the Reading Group Guide found on the Charter for Compassion’s website: to resolve to introduce one new practice into my life, an action that will be “a dynamic and positive force for change.” At the end of the twelve months, I’ll have twelve new compassionate habits.
I reset my goals last month, because I wasn’t doing so well on my initial attempts. Here’s my progress so far:
- Keep learning with the Global Read in 2016 hosted by the Charter for Compassion. I’ve bought the first book, The Compassionate Life by Marc Ian Barasch and begun to read it. I’ll need to go a bit quicker to finish it in time for the June 18 discussion.
- Look at my world by re-reading the Ferguson Commission Report. I downloaded it to my computer and my phone. I’m on page 57 of 204, so there’s still more to be done here.
- Practice self-compassion by taking steps to be more aware of my feelings. This is working! I had a bit of a breakthrough just last week on my overeating by being more aware of my feelings, so there are all kinds of benefits to this practice.
So, yay! I’m definitely making more progress after I pushed reset at the end of last month.
For the Fourth Step, Empathy, I was skeptical of the advice in the book to establish a daily meditation practice, one that I mapped out as a sketch note. It turns out, though, that I got closer to that than I thought I might. I made two changes to make this work for me.
One is that I practice it as a journaling exercise some of the time and as a meditation while driving, walking, or before sleep some of the time. This gets past my resistance to meditation as something one does while sitting quietly in an uncomfortable position.
The second is that I direct my empathy meditation to people that I expect to encounter in the next 24 hours.
I have evidence that this meditation helps.
A meeting that I expected to be boring wasn’t after I spent some time beforehand focusing on compassion and equanimity toward the people who would be there.
A meeting that I expected to have no problems contained dull moments and minor irritants when I failed to do this meditation beforehand. If I’d gone into the meeting with the improved mindset that is created by directing friendship, compassion, joy, and even-mindedness to everyone present, I think I would have had a better experience.
Regular practice of this meditation is getting me closer to my goal of believing that the room likes me. Empathy, it turns out, benefits me more than I would expect. I suspect that it is also making me an easier person to be around.
What works for you to increase empathy in your daily life?