A series on Karuna, Part 2: The witness within

This is a mini series on compassion. Written by Emily Curtis for Parimukti

Part 2: The witness within

When I find that I cannot be present to feel compassionate with the emotions that arise in my relationships, this is an indication of a potent story happening in me. Some people call this the emergence of the shadow, repressed memories, or emotions, it could also be triggered PTSD, unresolved holding/resisting patterns, fear, and many other phenomenon. It is what Pema Chödrön referred to as “our darkness.”

Pema Chodron

I see in my life, when I begin to tell myself a story about why I can’t be present, this need I feel for a boundary is actually the very intelligent inner-signifier for me to go inward and sit with my own darkness. Not to brood. Not to judge. But to witness. When I see it for what it is, all the while cultivating forgiveness and love, the darkness begins to transmute, integrate, be absorbed, and inform my wholitity.

There are many meditation techniques and body-mind therapies to generate self-compassion. I personally work with my inner child, EFT, loving kindness or metta meditation. Another technique I recently discovered is the very powerful prayer-meditation called the Ho’oponopono. If you haven’t heard of it, here is an article that describes the basic premise: http://www.mrfire.com/article-archives/new-articles/worlds-most-unusual-therapist.html

I am learning to more fully connect with myself in healthy and self-generating (as opposed to self-defeating) ways through these techniques. As I generate self-love and acceptance, I am finding it possible to be more fully present with others. Recently a person very close to me expressed pain. He noticed a deep-rooted pattern, where when he expressed vulnerability, if it was not fully understood by the other person, it caused him to shut down. And he understood this to be an expression of his darkness, part of his past patterning to be recognized, accepted, and loved. A year ago, I might not have been able to listen as a witness—I might have wanted to fix, or advise—but as he spoke about his process, I was able to be there for him, present, to witness and cry tears of understanding. Not to fix, advise, or judge. Just witness. And we became closer.

There are so many myriad ways that relationship yields the need for compassion. We are all so unique! And sometimes it is our differences that we resist. But they can also bring is closer. I feel so optimistic to have a practice of self-compassion to guide me. Even if it is difficult to recognize, to be aware, to accept, at least there is a path, and that feels liberating to me.

How do you see compassion arise in your life? What are the barriers you feel to compassion?

To be continued…


Photo credentials: “Pema chodron 2007 cropped” by http://www.flickr.com/people/64954998@N00 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/64954998@N00/520966065/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pema_chodron_2007_cropped.jpg#/media/File:Pema_chodron_2007_cropped.jpg

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