I recently had to fly from England to the United States. Upon boarding the flight and well into take off, there was an infant crying and his mother doing her best to ease him during this transition. There have been a multitude of instances I have witnessed with similarity while traveling. Many of you who travel frequently undoubtedly experience this. However, this was the first time I allowed myself to become an observer instead of reacting right away. I was able to survey the other passengers nearby and take note of the various expressions imprinted on their faces. Some faces registered looks of annoyance or frustration. While other expressions embodied genuine concern and empathy.
What kind of expressions would your face have, (regardless of your own perception of applying your version of a poker face)? How would your feelings be towards the child’s mother? Would they be a projection of your reaction-regardless of the response? Or would your perception be one of feeling for her and the child-trying to connect with them and attempt to relate with a moment in your own experiences similar to the one unfolding?
The capacity for love and compassion exist within all of us. How often do we consider the bigger picture in our various experiences each day? Being aware and more importantly practicing empathy is the path to the embodiment of love and compassion! Once you make a conscientious and daily effort to connect and feel someone's experiences and relate them to your own, then the empathy muscle is being worked and strengthened. Do you remember a moment when someone told you, “I feel your pain.”?
We are hard wired to be seen, heard, appreciated, and loved! Sharpening your awareness to the conditions of others will allow you to connect with them, as well as yourself on a more visceral level. Your practice will then lead to a higher connection by virtue of empathy. Ultimately, compassion becomes the ingrained byproduct of exercising empathy. We will fruitfully exist because of mutual aid and cooperation-not as a result of the survival of the fittest. Embrace compassion!