Compassion in Action
We speak a lot in our home about mindfulness and compassion (metta).
Compassion for self, as well as for others can completely turn our perception of a situation around in an nano second.
But compassion without action is like loving someone and never telling them.
My family and I were at a loud food court in a mall. A young mother with five children was struggling to order her food and pay for it while wrangling her children. Her son, who was probably seven-years-old, was yanking, twisting, and pulling on the arm of his younger sister, who was about three.
The toddler began to cry. Her cries became louder and more persistent. People began to shoot annoyed glances toward the family. My daughter and I said a prayer of comfort to the child and sent compassion to the mother.
After five minutes of increased high pitched scream cries, people began to shift in their seats with concern. I began wondering myself if the child’s arm hadn’t been broken by her brother. My daughter and I stopped what we were doing and began to direct all of our energy toward sending loving kindness energy toward the family.
At least 10 minutes of scream crying had now passed.
When a child cries that hard, for that long, sometimes it’s because there is something they need to express and be acknowledged for and sometimes it’s because of momentum. They want to stop crying but nothing is interrupting the pattern to help them. They are caught up in the moment, in the expression, and don’t know what else to do but more of the same.
We decided to approach the family.
I asked the mother, “May I offer you some support?” She looked at me with a kind of appreciative confusion. My daughter came with me and started playing peekaboo with the little girl who was scream crying.
Within a few minutes of just standing near the family, lending them our energy, acknowledging their struggle, engaging with kindness, and offering to be of service, the child stopped crying and even smiled. The mother was grateful. The entire food court in the mall was grateful. We walked back to our seats and life carried on; but with a gentler, kinder frequency and energy in the air.
It takes courage to act on compassion. Our minds get cluttered with questions:
“Should I just mind my own business?”
“Is it even appropriate for me to go over there and say something?”
“Someone else will show up to help or be of service.”
If fear stops you from acting on compassion, shift the paradigm from doing an act of compassion for another to doing the act of compassion for your self.
Reaching out to strangers with compassion is not just something we are inclined to do to be of service to others, but it’s a choice we make to be of service to ourselves.
If my daughter and I did not break away from the mob mentality of annoyance with the child and mother for all the commotion, we too could have found ourselves caught up in the same wave of anger and irritation.
Instead, we made a conscious choice to have compassion for all concerned and act on that choice.
Compassion is the quickest, easiest, most straight forward healing agent, of which I know. When people talk about resisting neutrality, making scenes and fighting for the rights we feel are being stripped of us, I think of compassion; first for the self and then for all.
The courage to take a stand
begins with the compassion of standing our ground.
May we all make more room for compassion in our hearts and may our compassion give us the courage to act when to do so will make a positive difference.