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Active Compassion

Dear Fellow Travelers,

I was talking with a young friend a few weeks ago just after the Paris attacks. He was despondent and struggling to breathe. None of his friends nor family members had been affected directly, but he was reeling from the inhumanity and violence. Like so many of us in the healing arts, he is a strong empath. As we talked, I could feel the depth of his pain and knew that he was in danger of losing many more days to this torment. I understood his position; I’ve been there. As a matter of fact, friends will often contact me after a story hits the news about some tragedy in the world because they know that I can feel individual as well as collective sorrow, even if I’m unaware of the circumstances. Being an empath can certainly be a blessing and a curse. I’ve had to learn where I have the power to act and when I must let go of the situation. This is what I shared with my friend.
When someone around us, an individual, a group or a community is hit with a tragedy or hardship and they fall, we stand in the circle with them as part of humanity. And when a member in our circle falls down, we have two choices we can make at that time. We can sit down on the floor in the sorrow with them – and that may be comforting to them for a while as we empathize with them. But to sit in that space with them, to only sit on the floor with them as they’ve fallen, becomes pity and pity is never empowering. I believe that true compassion is active and remains standing in the circle to reach down a hand and lift them up. We gain nothing if when one of us falls, all of us fall and sit on a heap on the floor together, like the children’s old nursery rhyme: “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.” I urge you in this time when we’re faced with what seems like endless tragedy across the world, to stay standing. Don’t dwell in sorrow and become dis-empowered in your own life over the pain and suffering. Because if you do, you will have no strength to help lift the fallen. Stand strong and reach down in whatever way works for you. Help where you can. Empathy without active compassion does nothing to help you nor anyone else. If you find yourself held captive to sorrow, I’m here to help.

Blessings & Light,
         “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
                                                                                              ~John Andrew Holmes

1 Comment to Active Compassion:

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Mary on Sunday, November 29, 2015 8:54 AM
Great post and insights!! I've been trying to shift how I see what's happening to go from feeling awful about it to thinking about what can I do to help others. Lately, my contribution has been to simply be a better person - refuse to get involved in us/them verbal conflicts (too easy to do!) and demonstrate that there is a better way to be. Or I share historical pieces that show how individuals made a difference and encourage others to do the same. My favorite is Hortensia speaking at the Senate in Rome. She made a difference - especially in a time when women weren't elected to the Senate - we can all do that too.
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