Monday, June 27, 2011

Compassionate presence

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals ~ Pema Chödrön

When we know what it is to feel our pain, we can feel compassion for another feeling their pain. We can't create a safe container for our self, or others, when we're afraid of pain. I once heard Jennifer McLean saying that “our body is the safest place to be”. When we're in emotional pain, our body can feel like the least safe place to be, because our emotions and sensations are felt and processed in the body. That's if we're associated with our body, feeling puts us in touch with our body and emotions which can feel unbearable, so we may dissociate and subsequently think and believe that feeling is an enemy to our peace of mind. So we avoid feeling.

Our willingness to feel our pain keeps us emotionally (and physically when there is no other cause) healthy. What we don't feel, we will act out. If we fear the emotions of others we know we have some work (i.e. feeling) to do with our own emotions.

What compassion translates to in a very practical way is being present with someone's feelings, all of their feelings. It isn't a multiple choice test where we get to tick off for others what the “good” or “bad” emotions they are feeling are. A vital ingredient of compassion is acceptance, so any discomfort we might feel about what someone else is feeling, shows us where we need healing. We might not have the same experience in common with someone, but we all have feelings in common. Most of us know what it's like to feel rage, frustration, sadness or delight. Nothing is more human than feeling our emotions and yet it can be so painful to do just that. We may need another person to create enough safety for us to be able to feel deep pain, someone who is present, willing to go there with us, doesn't try to fix it or reframe our feelings or situation too quickly before we feel heard.

For "full" emotional communication, one person needs to allow his state of mind to be influenced by that of the other ~ Daniel Siegel


trisha said...

compassionate approach toward ourselves and others can have miraculous effect.

Noreen Barron said...

It really can Trisha x