The Compassion of Being Present

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

-Dalai Lama

Everyone has some challenge they’re facing

Sometimes, it can be hard to be gentle with others, especially with those we love. We may tend to get wrapped up in our worries and troubles that we become too shortsighted of the ones we care for most. We may push them away, or even withdraw our affections because we are abnormally consumed with our internal discourse.

We need to strive to remember that in service and compassion towards others, we can find our peace and solitude in brightening their day. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but it shouldn’t be so hard to remind ourselves that everyone is facing some hardship or stress in their lives as well.

Sometimes it’s not in what is said, but in what is not

When someone we love is struggling, they may try to hide it from us. They might feel themselves a bother or burden to us if they speak up and so they quietly sit alone in their torment. However, if we are truly present and mindful when they are near it’s readily apparent, maybe not in what they say, but in what they do not.

By being present and aware of those closest to us hopefully, we will take note of their cues both apparent and subtle. We all have little tells that signal to those who know us best that we actually could use a kind word, a hug, or even just a shoulder to cry upon for a moment.

For instance, if our wife is typically a phenomenal cook, and the house is immaculately spotless despite the three toddlers running rampant in the house. One day you come home from the office, and there is evidence of the day’s catastrophe’s present, and maybe the roast is a bit overdone-strange right? Not if we’re paying attention.

Upon further investigation, her hair isn’t pinned back as neatly as usual. The cupboards and drawers slam around, and the table is haphazardly set, and then it hits you. This is not my beautiful house. This is not your usually perfectly put together spouse who could host a cooking show to put Paula Dean to shame. Something is wrong, so now what?

A silent moment of compassionate care

So, once we have identified that there is indeed something amiss, what do we do? How can we ascertain the issue at hand and what to do about it? I mean, you’ve got to do something, right? The kids are restless and whining about overcooked beasts, your wife is ready to stab her eyes out with her fork, and you attempt a compliment about the meal.

It’s a lie. You know it. She knows it. The kids are calling you on it. Here you sit, king of your messy little castle with three royal court jesters feeding your head on a pike to the red queen of homemaker hell.

Finally, dinner is over and the kids off to play. You wife was picking up the plates and growing ever more frustrated by the minute. Now! Do it now!

You walk over to your wife, gently turn her around to face you. And wrap your arms around her and she melts into you with a sigh of exhaustion. Talk to her in a moment, but for now, just hang on tight.

The power of saying nothing

If you stay in that kitchen holding her, then she doesn’t have to worry about whatever is vexing her, right? Guess again. Those fears and frustrations are still there bouncing around in her mind. You think to speak but opt in for more hug time.

At last, you feel her strength come back. It starts at her knees and progresses upwards until she is restored to her natural height and as she pulls away this is your moment. Go ahead and seize the day and gently remind her that it’s OK. Softly kissing her head you let her pull away and she finally lets it out.

She begins to list her horrible day in sequence. Don’t speak, just listen. Let her vent out her emotions and be ready with a box of tissues and plenty of affirming reassurance. Just be with her and let her vent and you will know when she needs you to speak up.


Mindful moments to ease each others pain

In any of our relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or business if we remain present and mindfully alert in each moment, we can intuit the pain and pressure points of another. By being mindfully aware of these struggles our family members, friends, and coworkers we can be ready and emotionally responsive and helpful to them.

Above all, we need to remain open and know that everyone has some struggle or fight that is going on behind the scenes. Every one of us wrestles with memories of past, anxieties about the future, and any number of other things that trouble our sophisticated minds. Be good to each other. Be kind and be gentle. Most of all, be there for those who would be there for you. The compassion of present could truly change someone’s life.

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