Finding Refuge Within Your Heart
“Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.”—Duane Elgin
Compassion is part of our genuine nature since we are the embodiment of love. We are familiar with compassion because of feeding, clothing and tending to your own needs. Compassion is extending these qualities to others and recognising the same humanity alive within us. Compassion is the recognition of our shared togetherness as sentient beings. Knowing we are connected through consciousness; we walk this journey together unified with our hearts and minds. We feel one another’s pain and share their joy because what you feel within is also active in others.
To awaken compassion is to give and receive love. It is a heart-centred focus of reaching out to a fellow human being and sharing kindness and empathy. We recognise our sacredness and acknowledge this presence within others. True refuge denotes coming home to your heart and touching the oneness of your being. Compassion and finding refuge within our hearts are soulmates coexisting in a sea of unity; a marriage bonded through devotedness. Knowing this, what does compassion mean to you? What are ways in which you show compassion to others? To yourself?
Coming Home To Yourself
“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.”—Proverb
To awaken compassion requires moving our awareness into our heart more often. If we are continually absorbed in our thoughts, we are at the mercy of succumbing to them and creating stress in our life. Thoughts can be volatile if we don’t understand their role. This requires recognising we are not our thoughts but the receiver of the thoughts. I’m not suggesting we ignore our thoughts, but proposing we better understand their function to better navigate life. If we wish to awaken compassion within us, we must practice it and develop a two-way communication with our heart. If we cannot recognise the stirring of our heart, we miss out on perceiving its consciousness.
Finding refuge within our heart is like returning home after being abroad for years. We are drawn to the familiarity and the sense of love; the freedom of being ourselves. This feeling is experienced by those in romantic relationships who speak of the togetherness shared by one another; a returning home when in the company of their beloved. What they’re really experiencing is coming home to themselves. The other person awakens the love within their own heart, resonated back through heart coherence. Therefore, we awaken compassion in the same way we express kindness to our fellow beings. A practice I perform often is to send thoughts of love and kindness to complete strangers when I’m walking in my city. I silently affirm to myself as a person passes me in the street: “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you live with ease.”
I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and any thoughts of anger, hostility or fear are washed away because a mind at peace cannot be at war with itself. We awaken compassion within us when we send loving thoughts to others because what we wish for them must be first experienced within us. To send love to another person, we must first have the seed of that emotion present within us. We are merely awakening its presence. True refuge is a heartfelt purity of love. To come home to ourselves means awakening our soul nature, so what I send forth is returned in full measure. Does this make sense in that what you want to experience more of in your life must first be experienced within you?
The Language Of The Heart
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want to experience love and compassion in your life, try the exercise I outlined earlier for 30 days and note how you feel. Send kind and loving thoughts to complete strangers and wish them well. Even while you are sending other people loving thoughts, you are simultaneously awakening love and compassion within you. It is about priming your mind and opening your heart to compassion as the seeds of love. As you create a sanctuary for love to reside within you, you stir these emotions within you. Similarly, if you judge or criticise yourself or others, stop and move into your heart and notice what is taking place.
I liken the mind to a Tesla car set on autopilot and driving on a freeway. To regain control of the vehicle, we must grasp the steering wheel to disable the autopilot. I invite you to do the same when you move into your heart. Take control by directing the flow of kindness and compassion. Don’t leave it to the mind’s autopilot to sabotage your efforts. It is difficult for the mind to overpower this union if you are committed to honouring the intention of a loving kindness dialogue. Your heart is an amazing faculty, capable of perceiving information well before the mind can make sense of it, according to the HeartMath Institute.
The heart senses long before reason takes hold. If we don’t recognise the language of the heart, it is because our thoughts are obscuring it. To awaken compassion within us is to develop a shared relationship with our heart, so we give and receive love. Therefore, I invite you to practice the exercise I mentioned earlier. Aim for 30 days but at the very least, allow yourself two weeks. If you have a journal, write how you feel. Observe whether the other person responds to your kindness. I’ve sent loving thoughts to complete strangers and noticed them smile back at me. I’m not suggesting this is grounded in science, but it makes me feel better and perhaps others become attuned to it. True refuge involves uniting with the oneness of our soul, so the love permeates throughout our entire being.