May’s theme is compassion. Mother’s Day this month brings to mind the Divine Feminine and all that the female deities and saints represent. Two of my favorite in this realm are Green Tara, the Tibetan Buddhist goddess of compassion, and the Christian Mary, mother of Jesus. I chant and pray to them often – to emulate their gracious nature of forgiveness, loving kindness, mercy and compassion.
“Compassion is the basis of morality.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
Literally, compassion means “with suffering” or “to suffer together.” This feeling arises when we see others suffering and feel motivated to relieve their suffering. Although related, it’s not the same as empathy or altruism. When empathetic, we’re able to relate to the emotions of others. Compassion grows out of empathy, when we want to do something about it. From this point, altruism may emerge – the act of helping others – in whatever form that may take. However, altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion. One can feel for others deeply without acting upon these feelings.
The key seems to lie in “feeling for others deeply” and having the desire to help. The biggest way we can begin to help is through thoughts and prayers generated by this compassionate view. This is the message: it begins within.
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” — Albert Einstein
Research has shown all sorts of good things happen when we’re feeling compassionate: our heart rate slows down and we even secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin! As a result, regions of the brain light up which link to our caregiving instincts.
Furthermore, clinical studies have shown a compassionate nature leads to all sorts of health benefits both mentally and physically:
- Reduces stress
- Lowers blood pressure
- Promotes positivity
- Improves relationships
- Boosts immunity
“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.” — Simone de Beauvoir
Although other studies show compassion isn’t something we’re born with or without, it can be cultivated. Here are some guidelines:
- Mutual support – reflect upon being the recipient of compassion from one another.
- Meditation practice – cultivate compassion toward yourself and to all others.
- See yourself in others – know that your suffering isn’t unique, nor is theirs.
- Confidence in self – feel that you can make a difference.
- Self care – remain objective and protective of yourself to avoid burnout.
“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed.” — Bell Hooks
In conclusion, it’s evident promoting positivity and objectivity provide benefits for us all. We’re on this trip together. Our individual paths vary greatly. Yet they ultimately converge onto the same main highway. However differently we may view what our destination may be – heaven, God, returning to Source, attaining enlightenment – it behooves us to take this journey through the lens of awareness. Compassion is key.
May’s Scent of the Month: Magnolia Oil. This essential oil is derived from the flowers of the magnolia tree. Used in Asia for thousands of years for its therapeutic benefits, it has a sweet floral aroma with a hint of fruitiness, reminiscent of Champagne. This oil contains a high concentration of linalool alcohol, a natural compound that promotes calmness and tranquility. Magnolia is known for its therapeutic, health and beauty benefits. It’s used as a sedative and as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Moreover, it’s also known to relieve muscle tension and menstrual cramps. Magnolia is often prescribed as a supplement for pain relief. Topically it’s used for skin conditions. Inhaling steam infused with magnolia is believed to be a remedy for many respiratory ailments. For more information and how to use and to order, I recommend Doterra and Young Living products.
Suggested Reading: Pema Chödrön’s Compassion Cards: Teachings for Awakening the Heart in Everyday Life by Prema Chodron
Images: Courtesy of pexels.com/freephoto stock source.