Most people have at some time heard about Siddhārtha Gautama, more commonly known as Buddha, who attained Buddhahood sometime around 500BCE. And it is his journey of awakening and subsequent enlightenment that we now associate with the word compassion.
Around the world and over many centuries, so many other souls have journeyed similar paths and have awakened to the same spiritual conclusions. Many names that we know and many unrecorded ones have left a trail of spiritual breadcrumbs for us to follow. The beauty is that each and everyone has come from an entirely different starting place or spring, but all end up flowing into the ocean of enlightenment.
So it is inevitable that we should be drawn to follow in the footsteps of the ones that have gone before. But what I would say is that all of the souls who have come before were just like you and me, complete with faults and flaws and baggage of all kinds. But they were meant to be awake, just like you and I, not walking around asleep to the world that calls our name, but gathering all of the breadcrumbs and following where they lead; embracing all of the turns and blind alleys placed in front of us, until we emerge into the light of our truth.
The path of the heart is the journey that every one of us will travel at some stage. It is not the final journey by any means, but it calls us to look at life and our place within it in a very different and profound way. All of the things that we take for granted as necessary in our 3D world cease to hold our attention and they quietly dissolve away.
But what does increase, is our connection to, or awareness of, everything and everyone that ever was and will be. And in so doing, we suddenly become aware of the expansive nature that is our connection to the Divine source.
Ok, so what is compassion, and how do we turn it on?
Compassion = sympathetic awareness of others’ distress or situation together with a desire to alleviate it.
This is a description that popped up recently and certainly covers the wider view. The only aspect I would add is how broadly do you experience and how far would you go to alleviate any suffering? Compassion has nothing to do with pity as many writers have alluded too, as the word points toward being better than rather than equal too, or looking down upon.
But compassion isn’t for everyone else!
For it to be of real use to others, you first have to make the change within yourself, within your heart. This change internally and then combined externally brings about an alchemical moment that not only changes you and the individual but also the broader world. This to my mind is true compassion!
As with absolutely everything that we will ever talk about on the path of the heart, the answer and method are built into you; it’s just a case of giving it space to arise.
Probably if you have read any of the other blogs I have written on the spiritual path, you will be aware that meditation or the active use of silence with an inward focus, is always the starting point.
Conscious deep breathing
Pranayama is the process of extracting life force (prana) that exists all around us and channeling it for active use within the subtle and spiritual bodies. Conscious deep breathing is the precursor to working with pranayama.
We work with breath and pranayama directly because the etheric heart and lungs operate at the same level within our chakra system, stimulating and supporting each other.
The process of inhalation and exhalation is one that takes place many times a minute/hour/day/year/life, but we take this process for granted as it is an automatic function.
But to truly learn to breathe and ultimately incorporate pranayama in our practice takes focus and desire to expand upon what we already do.
In conscious deep breathing, all we are doing is paying attention to every action of the process and not changing or judging what is taking place.
The four parts to conscious deep breathing are also simple, starting with deep exhalation, leaving a short space, deep inhalation, leaving a short space, and then back to deep exhalation.
We always start with an exhalation because within all things we need to create space for something to grow.
If you use this practice as a minor section of your day, try extending it beyond just something that you do, to making it part of everything that takes place. What you will find is that not only will you feel different but because of it everyone you come into contact with will experience you differently. This in itself will make changes you possibly couldn’t imagine taking place.
In itself, compassion, used as a tool to awaken and travel our Life Path, can be such a profound journey that perhaps no other method or focus is needed.
But when combining compassion and empathy, we suddenly become aware that this thing that we have heard of as the “life path” is no longer something we talk about but becomes how life truly is!
Dean Creedy has been a spiritual seeker for over 40 years and has had a focus on the path of the yogic traditions for nearly 25. He was drawn to the mystical and metaphysical side of the Indian and Eastern traditions, gaining deeper understanding through the grace of teachers and masters upon the path. In 2003 he became part of these traditions by initiation and adopting and embracing his spiritual name.