Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

A process for developing personal compassion to engage in compassionate community for a more compassionate world

Welcome to Compassionate Sunday. We’re working through Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong, one step per month.

If you’d like to share a post about what you learned about compassion (The First Step), what you’re seeing in your world (The Second Step), self-compassion (The Third Step), empathy (The Fourth Step), mindfulness (The Fifth Step), action (The Sixth Step), how little we know (The Seventh Step), how to speak to one another (The Eighth Step), concern for everybody (The Ninth Step), knowledge (The Tenth Step), recognition (The Eleventh Step), or loving your enemies (The Twelfth Step) use the link list below. Or join the discussion in the comments or on Facebook.


This is my last post in my year-long Compassionate Sunday project. I’ll be sad to see it go! I promised, last week, that I would use this post to gather the tools that helped me most to live a compassionate life.

Books. Several of the Twelve Steps call for more learning — learn about compassion and compassionate people, learn about my world, learn about self-care, learn about other cultures (ones I like and ones I don’t). Here are some books that helped me with compassion in the past year:

 

The Head Office.  This is an exercise from the book A Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds by Barbara Sophia Tammes, about creating spaces in my mind for retreats and healing activities. The Head Office is where I sort and re-sort my feelings into folders until I fully understand them. Understanding my own emotions is vital for my self-care and unexpectedly useful in understanding what others are going through.

Meditations. I’m not good at meditation, but two fairly active meditations have proven effective for me this year.

Empathy meditation. This worked so well for me that I wrote about it three times– once to describe the meditation, a second time with an extended example of how it worked for me, and a third time with evidence that it worked.

Tonglen meditation. Breathe in suffering, breathe out comfort. I do this every time I hear a siren as well as when I hear sad or painful stories from family, friends, or the news. The tonglen meditation leads me away from stress and toward sadness, which (it turns out) is a better, more honest, more healing, place to be.

Thanks for following along with me on this compassion journey. My posts may end, but, clearly, the work continues. I’ll keep reading books, monitoring my emotions, and meditating. What tools work best for you to live a compassionate life?




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