The story of the Buddha goes that he sat under a bodhi tree for 49 days and reached enlightenment. Afterward, he would travel throughout India spreading his Four Noble Truths and fostering compassion cultivation with his followers.
You don’t have to be a spiritual guru or follow one to cultivate your own sense of care for the suffering of others. All it takes is a willingness to learn and an eagerness to practice age-old techniques.
Keep reading to learn more about how to train yourself to be more compassionate toward yourself and others.
What Is Compassion Cultivation?
Compassion itself has a few core qualities. Awareness of suffering, sympathy for the sufferer, and the motivation to ease said suffering. Identifying these is the first step toward recognizing compassion and cultivating it in yourself.
We often confuse compassion with empathy and sympathy. All three involve awareness of suffering, but compassion requires a readiness or willingness to act to ease the suffering.
And it’s not just in regard to others. Compassion for oneself is valuable to train before you can start cultivating compassion for others.
Cultivating compassion draws from many different fields of study. Psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience, and even spiritual and religious studies all contribute to compassion training.
What Are the Benefits of Compassion Cultivation Training?
Cultivating compassion can help you be more mindful and present. It can help to shift your attention from worrying about the past and future. Your identity won’t reside in problems, but rather in the here and now.
Training your compassion can also help with your mental health overall. You can regulate your emotions better and not feel powerless to strong urges or initial reactions.
Your relationships with others and yourself can improve as well. As we learn to identify with and aid in others’ suffering, we help take on the burdens of our friends and family.
When we cultivate compassion for ourselves, we become less rigid and hard on ourselves. We learn to let go of past mistakes and ease our grip on perfect future outcomes. The overall benefit can be less overall stress in our lives and a more balanced approach to relationships.
Exercises For Cultivating Compassion
Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is a powerful way to train your sense of compassion. These start by building compassion before visualizing sending it into the world.
During LKM, people will recite mantras or chant time-honored phrases. For information on compassion mantras and chanting, look here for more.
Some people also keep a compassion journal and read it before doing LKM. This helps them keep a record of who or what they’d like to direct their compassion toward.
Be More Compassionate
Working on your compassion cultivation can help manage stress. It also benefits your relationship with yourself and others. When we actively participate in easing suffering, the world can become a better place.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness and more techniques for developing awareness, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out more in our Lifestyle blog!