With permission from the Community Mindfulness Project (CMP), I'm sharing a post from their Reflections blog. If you are interested in mindfulness and meditation, the CMP is a rich, local resource. I wrote about St. Luke's connection to the CMP last year in Taking the Lead on Mindfulness. I'm grateful St. Luke's, the CMP and The Spence School are working together again on our 2nd annual Mindfulness in Education Conference: Centered Learning—How Mindfulness Fuels Focus & Well-Being. Dr. Tish Jennings is our keynote. I hope you can join us June 9th.
Thank you to the CMP for writing this compassion reflection and allowing me to share...

Compassion For You Is Compassion For Me

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, 
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
-Miller Williams (1930-2015) 

Compassion is often easily accessible when we witness the suffering of a loved one, particularly a child.  The heart opens easily in those moments.  And compassion may also arise with little bidding when we encounter a stranger who is clearly experiencing misfortune.  But when we feel wronged by another, compassion may seem not only unreachable, but also inappropriate. Yet those moments may be the most powerful opportunities to extend compassion to ourselves by extending it to others.  Someone may speak sharply to us, for example, and we grab on to this experience, making it part of our identity for that day, telling friends our story with great indignity, perhaps replaying the scene in our heads and imagining the retribution we could have exacted if we’d only thought more quickly in the moment…  For a while, the energy may carry us, but soon we have to acknowledge that it is hollow, and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.  We are left feeling tight, small, and closed off from the world.   If, instead, we could wonder about the circumstances that may have lead to this person’s behavior, acknowledging that there may be some backstory that causes him or her to be so brash, and also imagine that their behavior probably doesn’t feel good to them… then we may begin to soften.  Rather than expending energy crafting cutting responses or other forms of retribution, we can offer up a quiet wish for an end to their discomfort.  Our heart stays open, we move through the rest of the day with a greater sense of ease, and a sense of openness and connectedness… a sense of empowerment rather than victimhood.  In allowing compassion to arise for those who have treated us poorly, we are not condoning, or enabling their behavior.  We are merely managing our response to it, extending compassion to them and ultimately to ourselves.                   

  —Community Mindfulness Project

 See also The Power of Compassionate Student Leaders.

St. Luke’s is a private, secular (non-religious) independent school in New Canaan, CT serving grades 5-12. St. Luke’s mission: An exceptional education that inspires a deep love of learning, a strong moral compass, the commitment to serve, and the confidence to lead. 


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