The Power of Compassion

"From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life. As long as we live in this world, we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!” -- Dalai Lama, Compassion and the Individual

I remember the day I made the decision to start a support group for parents and caregivers of chronically ill and special needs children. My daughter was six years old, her sister was eight and we were struggling for balance in a chaotic household riddled with medical trauma. I was on the edge of a divorce, felt alone fighting daily depression. I had no one to relate to. I was determined to find support beyond therapy once or twice a week. It wasn’t right to feel bereft in such a terrible time of need and my anger spurred me into action.

I had no experience as a group leader. I had only the desire to seek comfort and support from others who understood. Our pediatrician validated my determination and I formed a small support group.

Mostly mothers attended with some fathers. The children’s illnesses varied but family struggles were similar. We wanted to feel support and find comfort in inclusion. We found solace in sharing solutions to our day-to-day problems. Unfortunately, without a skilled facilitator, the group lasted four months. I felt defeated and yet determined. My anger was my fuel.

I learned a lot about myself since this experience almost 35 years ago. I have always been empathic, aware of others emotional. This support group experience birthed a deep compassion and a desire to help.

I understand that empathy is the ability to viscerally feel the emotions of others and compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.

My difficult childhood helped me define the best possible childhood experience for my children.

My daughter’s chronic illness and ultimate transition taught me survival skills while dealing with impossible odds. Her fierceness taught me to be proud of my differences.

My late spouse’s tragic car accident helped me experience life after death.

I hold hope in my compassion when you lose yours.

I hold courage in my compassion when you can’t find yours.

I love myself with compassion and accept my primal wounds.

I exercise healthy boundaries with compassion and feel safe.

Compassion begins within.

Blessing for the Brokenhearted

by Jan Richardson

Let us agree

for now

that we will not say

the breaking

makes us stronger

or that it is better

to have this pain

than to have done

without this love.

Let us promise

we will not

tell ourselves

time will heal

the wound,

when every day

our waking

opens it anew.

Perhaps for now

it can be enough

to simply marvel

at the mystery

of how a heart

so broken

can go on beating,

as if it were made

for precisely this—

as if it knows

the only cure for love

is more of it,

as if it sees

the heart’s sole remedy

for breaking

is to love still,