Morning Intention: Compassion As “Staying-With”

** Morning Intention: To see compassion as “staying with” whatever I am doing 

We have a hard time seeing things through to the end. It’s not just the projects and relationships we abandon as soon as they get difficult. It’s also life itself, which we tend not to be present for, though it is so short and so precious. To make matters worse, we often see compassion for ourselves in terms of escape, sort of like when we had trouble learning something as kids and someone said it was “okay” to give up. In the same way, we are constantly telling ourselves that giving up, not showing up, killing time, etc., are expressions of compassion. But death comes for us all, robbing us of these illusions.

Meditation gives us the opportunity to see our false ideas about compassion and what is sometimes called “the wisdom of no-escape.” If you sit long enough, you will see the mind’s seductive but ultimately futile attempts to convince itself that wandering off into thought is kinder than being present. But if you’ve ever meditated, you know how empty and meaningless these thought-worlds seem as soon as the bell rings and you realize you’ve spent the whole sitting going nowhere. It’s much kinder to remind yourself, “Being present is hard, but let me feel just one more breath. And then one more.” Think of the breath like a bath you get into and want to stay and soak in for as long as possible.

So here’s the practice: Today, sit and focus on your breath. Notice when you are tempted to wander and remind yourself, “This is a good place. Let me remain here just a little longer, out of compassion for myself.” The present moment is the only place where true self-love can reveal itself. Stay here.

Featured image by Yuliana Mendoza

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