January 22, 2017
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER:
Exploring Ways Compassion for Ourselves and Others Might Help Us in These Changing, Uncertain Times.
Facilitator: Calliope Callias
Calliope began the evening by sharing that her recent and most meaningful interest has been on Compassion for self and others. She sees Compassion at the heart of focusing. She spoke of how she became interested in this concept from her studies of Positive Psychology (PP), a field that studies scientifically what makes life worth living. From them she learned the power of Compassion and the importance of cultivating it for better living. PP uses various mindfulness and other exercises to cultivate compassion. Calliope says that she sees these techniques as “top down”, coming from our mind as thoughts and mantras, which even though they may be helpful in cultivating Compassion, they lack what Focusing has to offer. She explained how she sees Focusing as a “bottom up”, from the heart, organic way to become compassionate with ourselves and others and believes that the combination of the two, Heartfulness (as she defined Focusing) and Mindfulness is what leads to authentic and probably more lasting Compassion.
In bringing awareness of Compassion to the current political situation, she addressed the problem of anger that some people experience with those who don’t see things their way - and the Compassion that is needed. She spoke of the pain beneath the hate - something hurts “in there” and the need to come in contact with the part that is hurting. She also spoke of the difficulties and the struggle we may experience in our effort to be compassionate with certain people in our lives and how Compassion is something that needs to be cultivated.
At this point she led us in a focusing exploration: What arises inside when trying to hold the words Compassion and Self Compassion? Subsequent comments included:
- Surprisingly, I feel as sad for myself as for all the others whose situations make me sad.
- The difference between ”top down” and that which arises and is resisting the “top down” : Arising is something we all have; widening myself to that which is arising, I then do not feel I “have to” have Compassion.
- Do I need to have Compassion for everyone? When does it feel impossible?
- Very meaningful phrase from Gandi: “let us become the change we seek in the world.”
- Where is it in me? A felt a sense of shut down - a metal box-clamped down, smaller, judgmental to myself.
- I need self-compassion about not being able to be compassionate.
She then shared some of what she has learned in her studies and research on Compassion, addressing the question of what Compassion is and how it goes further than Empathy.
Beyond the dictionary definitions, the word Compassion is pointing to being “With Passion” (Com-Passion). And “Passion” comes from the Greek word Pathos and the Roman Pati- and has two meanings: The Eudemonic, healthy, strong interest and devotion to something that gives us meaning; and the Obsessive, addictive, unhealthy passion that may lead to misery. In Focusing we try to be With both; with all our inner parts. We are trying to develop a compassionate relationship with all our passions, and that usually brings a shift and help us move forward.
She also described what Self- Compassion is and what it is not, according to recent literature.
According to research Compassion and Self Compassion offer a lot of benefits for the individual and for society, lead to greater happiness and help us flourish. Brain studies also show how compassion stimulates Oxytocin, the hormone of Love and Bonding – creating an overall sense of well being.
At this point Calliope led us to a Self Compassionate Exercise, and then to an exercise offering Compassion to one another. People responded strongly that they had had the experience of shifting as they went through all of the experience of the evening.
Calliope then led us in a lovely ending ceremony, as she lit candles and played a song about compassion, sharing pieces of chocolate (which simulates oxytocin!) .
PLEASE NOTE OUR NEXT NY METRO FOCUSING MEETING WILL BE HELD ON
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, with “FOCUSING IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES” AS THE TOPIC .
MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW