“We spend so much of our time working and driving toward our goals so we can feel something more fulfilling yet in ONE moment in time with some dirty, ill, stranger I felt the potential of what my whole life could feel like.”
Let me say that except for a couple key shameful moments in elementary school I have always been a nice and compassionate person. My work was driven by my feelings of connection to others and my desire to help.
BUT SOMETHING WAS MISSING. I was lacking a depth of connection that I desired.
What I learned in the past few years (from powerful Jeff´s practices) is that I tend to be very mental, a fast thinker, and at times an over thinker. Nice and compassionate are actually primarily thinking states. I tried to connect to others through thoughts about the situation. This is pretty common here in our culture.
This pattern also creates a distance between others and me so that was the feeling of something missing… I was actually creating distance while desiring closeness.
Yikes, what a realization!!
Empathy on the other hand engages me mentally, physically, emotionally, energetically and relationally. Jeff suggests a definition might be Empathy = Compassion + Intimacy. The whole me experiences empathy. The practices allowed me to know myself and experience this INCREDIBLY satiating experience.
WHY IT MATTERS:
When I am aware and connected to myself and can experience empathy, I am actually seeing YOU. It´s not about me.
I’m not in my head. I don’t need you or the situation to be ok, so I can be ok. (aka codependence) In a way, your state does not affect me … I can feel what you feel but it is not draining me, pulling me or activating me to fix it or avoid it. NO DRAMA.
FOR EXAMPLE, historically when I would see a person who was homeless or mentally ill, I would have all this energy moving, I'd get all tweaked like the world was fucked up and why weren't we doing anything – the activist would get all riled up in me. OR I would get clinical about the how and why since that was something I did for work.
This turned that person into an object for me to fix rather than feel what I feared would overwhelm me.
It was all about me. This is the energy that would cause you or I to give them money, which is nice and compassionate, but then not feel really connected or intimate. It was safe.
Recently though, I saw a young man in So Cal go into a trashcan and pull out something and start eating. He was so dirty, he looked like a wild animal. My response was completely different. I paused, and felt him. I could FEEL him moving through space with me. I was not overcome with sadness, stories, judgment, fear or the need to fix. I was present and responded to the situation.
I was actually curious about this human and his experience and realized that I have no idea what he is experiencing or feeling so I could not project anything on to him. I touched his arm and asked if he wanted something to eat. I felt no fear of being overwhelmed. He looked me in the eye and said yes please.
That moment blew my heart open.
WE ARE INTERESTING BEINGS. We spend so much of our time working and driving toward our goals so we can feel something more fulfilling yet in ONE moment in time with some dirty, ill, stranger I felt the potential of what my whole life could feel like.
My ability to feel empathy has changed my experience of life and it was not because I started thinking in a new way. I learned to go within and feel in a new way. I am in a daily practice to bring this into all areas of my life and notice my resistance as it rises
... because what if I felt that open and expanded all of the time?