Compassion, Shadow Shes, Touchstones

The Touchstone of Compassion

The Touchstone of Compassion

When I hear the word compassion, my first thoughts dance around the act of offering it: offering someone compassion. There’s always an object, a recipient of the compassionate act.

And how rare it is that I am the object of my own compassion . . .

The Touchstones of Circle and Compassion are so intertwined for me. I must offer myself compassion before I can ever show up in a meaningful way for another, and yet, it is through listening to others within a Circle that I learn the tools for offering myself kindness.

Earlier this week, I wrote about my Shadow Shes— those aspects of myself who are apt to tear the place up when their needs aren’t met– and how I learned to start listening to them.

I fail a significant percentage of the time.

Sometimes all I can do is just note my shaking hands, my frenzied thoughts, my bitter words, the urge to smash and scream and hurl it all into oblivion . . . all I can do is note them and say, “Oh, it’s you again.”

But sometimes, if I can take myself by the hands, sit down and ask “Why?” When I can ask the question without expecting the answer, when I can let myself surprise myself, then I can sometimes alter a painful pattern. I can take up the tiller with a compassionate hand and steer myself towards serener waters.

A Janus-Sided Jade

These last few weeks for me have been exceedingly challenging– deaths, work, finances, stress– in short, the perfect storm. This is precisely when my Shadow Shes step in to take the reins.

And so I have been putting my own oxygen mask on first. I’ve stepped back to re-mind myself of the journey from grief to joy, to acknowledge that I’ve been dropped back at the start of it. And I’ve stepped away from commitments to let myself heal for a bit.

What has Compassion looked like to me these last few weeks? Sleeping in. The camellias I brought to work before a 16-hour day. The lighting of a candle. The burning of a bay leaf. Snuggling a cat. Holding a stone and breathing until my belly loosens. Making my husband dinner. Laughing with friends. Singing. Falling in love with a museum. Sitting on the front step to catch the last rays of sun.

How have you shown yourself Compassion lately?

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