Well, the day has come – we have reached the final tenet of Ahimsa: Compassion.
[Reminder: we’re focused on the 8 Limbs of Yoga per Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras and right now we are on the first limb, the Yama, and the first Yama–Ahimsa (non-violence)].
If you think about it, compassion has everything to do with non-violence. To yourself and to others.
Compassion is formally defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Can we learn compassion? Yes.
Does everyone have compassion? No. Everyone has the capacity but not everyone views themselves and the world with the gentle eyes necessary to practice compassion — self or otherwise.
We learn compassion as we cease trying to change ourselves and/or others, and as we offer simple acts of kindness and allow others’ lives to be as important as ours.
When you begin to wallow in your own self-pity, stop and do something, anything nice, for someone else. It will change the trajectory of your day AND theirs. It will put you on the path of compassion.
“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”
Everyone has a story. Some stories are better than ours, some are much, much worse. Either way, every person you will cross today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life deserves thoughtful and considerate treatment, the basic foundation of Ahimsa. Remember this the next time you think about snapping at the waitress or belittling your spouse. See them with eyes of compassion vs. judgement and personal preference.
Honor the relationship you have with yourself, with others and with the earth. Do no harm, step lightly and respectfully. Ahimsa.
When you find love and self-acceptance, you find compassion and understanding for others.