Q: There is so much pain and suffering in the world. I have my own worries and fears too, and I get overwhelmed. How can I make space for my own pain—and everyone else’s, too?
A: When we touch in with pain, we are exploring what compassion looks like in our hearts, and in our world. So whether we’re watching the news, or we get an emergency call from a family member, our hearts go out to those who are in difficult situations. We realize we’re all connected and that we belong to the world. Then our work is to acknowledge what’s hard and be with that, allowing it to move us. Then we can explore our heart’s relationship to pain.
A Mindfulness Practice for Connecting with Compassion for the World
Here’s a practice for connecting with compassion:
- Turn your attention inward. See if the breath can flow right through the heart as we hold ourselves like we would hold anyone we love.
- Bring your awareness to the sensations around the heart. All the children of the world, just like you, have their own struggles and pain. Offer them these phrases: I care about your difficulties. May you be held in compassion. May your heart be at peace.
- Connect with tenderness. Now include the adults too: I care about your difficulties. May you be held in compassion. May your heart be at peace.
- Now radiate boundless compassion to all beings without exception. The suffering of the world is vast. And so is the heart that can hold it. I care about your suffering. I care about your difficulties. May you be held in compassion. May we all be held in compassion. May our hearts be at peace.
- Coming home to this moment, how does your heart feel? Allow whatever’s happening in your heart to be there. May we continue to plant the seeds of compassion and kindness.