Personal practice Monday: Show compassion to yourself and others
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Deborah Flanagan's April 13, 2011 newsletter.
As I've discussed in past newsletters, the system of Reiki offers five precepts (or rules to live by). The fourth precept is about compassion.
The precept mentions being compassionate to yourself first, because you have to be able to be kind to yourself before you can be kind to anyone else. This means letting go of regret, guilt, and any negative emotions you feel that allow you to beat yourself up. Often we're so much harder on ourselves than we would be with anyone else.
This past weekend I helped teach Reiki I at the New York Open Center. I was so impressed by the number of people who said they wanted to learn Reiki so they could have a tool to help them take better care of themselves. Most of them admitted it's really hard for them to be kind to themselves in this way.
Taking a weekend Reiki class or coming for a Reiki or reflexology session offers the opportunity and space for you to take time for yourself, allowing you to connect with your inner wisdom and be your best self.
An Exercise: Practice Self-Compassion
Try this simple exercise daily to remind you to treat yourself with care. Ask what’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? And then actually do whatever it is. When you love and take care of yourself, you’ll find it inevitably serves everyone.
Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.— Thich Nhat Hanh
Often, we're compassionate to people for a reason; we want something back (e.g. you give someone a present and you expect a thank you). How often do we truly give without wanting something in return? It’s protection to want something back. But then you're not really operating out of compassion.
Practicing compassion is another rung on the ladder of the precepts: as you eliminate anger, fear, and worry from your life, you begin to find your way, and then you can be more compassionate. You can work towards a place where there's no giver, no gift, and no receiver--this is true compassion. You're not giving, instead, it's more like "here it is." There's no separation between you and others.