2012-11-28 07.41.07

According to the American Heritage Dictionary compassion is the deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the inclination to give aid or support or to show mercy.  I worked many years in a homeless shelter and would often take on my clients pain and want to fix things for them, this never worked nor was it helpful.   I have learned a valuable life skill from my Urban Zen Training, the  practice of being a compassionate listener, no need to fix or take away others pain, simply be, be present for the person,  knowing that part of our human condition is suffering.  This act of listening and not sharing your own story or trying to fix the problem is a  gift to the person suffering and to yourself.  I will not lie, this is very challenging and can be even more challenging with family members.  It is so powerful to felt heard, after all isn’t that what we all want, is to be seen and heard as we are.  Some of the tools that help me stay present and to keep from getting overwhelmed by the other’s suffering is to feel my feet or my sit bones planted on a chair, and to notice my breath.  According to Joan Halifax in Being with Dying, we create a strong back and open heart, to avoid getting carried away.  I invite you to try really listening to a friend without offering feedback or  advice, simply listen with an open heart and observe.

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