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Seeing others suffering is painful. Learn to practice both compassion and self-soothing in this guided meditation led by Anushka Fernandopulle.
How to Do This Practice:
Find somewhere peaceful, sit down and get comfortable. Once you’re ready, gently close your eyes.
Start taking deep breaths and relax your body. Part by part, release tension in different areas of your body.
Think of someone or a group of people you know or have heard of who may be having a hard time. Bring to mind an image of them.
Connect with whatever it is they are struggling with. Mentally, make some wishes of compassion for them. For example, “May you be free from pain.” Or, “I am here with you.”
You can also use this practice to focus on your own pain. To do this, call to mind your struggles and give yourself the same compassion you gave others.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Anushka Fernandopulle is a meditation teacher who trained in Buddhist meditation for over 30 years. After studying Buddhism at Harvard, she spent four years in full-time meditation training in the U.S., India, and Sri Lanka
Check out Anushka’s upcoming meditation retreats https://www.anushkaf.org
Follow Anushka on Instagram https://tinyurl.com/ytn3vvhz
Follow Anushka on Twitter https://tinyurl.com/485vj8xn
Check out Anushka’s Dharma Talks https://tinyurl.com/ydacvamn
Find another version of the Compassion Meditation practice at our Greater Good in Action website:
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
What is compassion? https://tinyurl.com/2s3ztcpt
Take Our Self-Compassion Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/yysrf663
Try Dr. Neff’s Fierce Self-Compassion Break: https://tinyurl.com/yk9yzh9u
How to Bring Self-Compassion to Work with You: https://tinyurl.com/45zkrkam
The Five Myths of Self-Compassion: https://tinyurl.com/2p88vass
Read Dr. Neff’s interview about Self-Compassion: https://tinyurl.com/286njtje
How Self-Compassion Can Help You Through a Breakup: https://tinyurl.com/222scejz
Can Self-Compassion Overcome Procrastination? https://tinyurl.com/mrfmvyj
We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of compassion meditation. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Find us on Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
Help us share Happiness Break! Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner Pain and suffering in life are inevitable – we all go through hard times. And difficult as that may be, sometimes it’s even harder to watch someone we care about in pain.
I’m Dacher Keltner, welcome to Happiness Break, where we take a short break to try a practice designed to cultivate calm, kindness and ultimately, more happiness.
Today’s practice is a tool for when you find yourself feeling other people’s suffering, and you’re not sure what to do.
We’re going to cultivate compassion for others. And the literature shows us that when we do practice compassion towards others it has a snowball effect: it increases our own happiness and self-esteem, it also helps others feel more satisfied with our lives. It’s an opportunity to step out of our own worries and ruminations, which can actually make us more altruistic, less depressed and less stressed.
Here to guide is Anushka Fernandopulle. Anuska is a meditation teacher who’s trained in Buddhist meditation for over thirty years.
So find somewhere peaceful, and settle in.
Anushka Fernandopulle Hi, this is Anushka. I’d like to guide you in a practice of cultivating compassion
So it can be helpful to find a place to sit that you can feel comfortable in a quiet area. You can close your eyes gently if it’s safe and comfortable for you to do so.
So the practice of compassion is helpful for when you encounter someone who’s suffering. And this could be a friend who is telling you something difficult that’s happened to them.
And sometimes the first response we have is to problem solve. But actually many times what people most want to hear is just some sense of compassion. Like, Oh, I’m sorry this is happening for you. Like, I’m with you in this.
There are also times in the world when, for example, we hear a siren and we don’t know how to respond to that. We ignore it or just go on our way, but we could actually bring up compassion for whoever it is who’s suffering.
Or it could be we’re reading a story about a group of people in a country that has a war or a shortage of food or some other difficulty. Our mind becomes confused or has difficulty of how to respond to that. We could bring up compassion in this way in our hearts.
So let’s try it.
You can take a deep breath in and as you exhale, just feel yourself sinking into your posture, feeling your connection to your chair cushion can take another deep breath in, and as you exhale, just try to relax, anything that might be tense around your jaw, around your eyes, your shoulders
Will bring to our mind someone who we know is having a hard time. It can be helpful if it’s not the person who is closest to. Who it’s most difficult for you is that they’re having a hard time, but you can think of a friend that’s having some difficulty. Could be in relationships or in a job, someone who’s told you about some problem they’ve had, or even someone that you’ve read about online. If you can bring to mind either an image of this person or a sense of this person in front of you and connect with their difficulty just allowing your heart to open to that, and then we’ll just connect with some wishes of compassion for them. May you be free from suffering.
May you be free from pain.
May you be at ease.
I’m sorry you’re having a hard time.
I care that you’re having difficulty.
I’m here with you.
So if there’s one or two of those phrases that feel particularly resonant for you, you can choose them. And you can just connect with each of them with as much sincerity as you can.
May you be free from suffering.
I’m sorry you’re having a hard time.
I hope things get better.
You can also have the practice of compassion for groups of people. So you could think about a situation in the world in which there’s a group of people who’re having a hard time or group of animals.
It could even be for the earth itself, living beings on earth as a. So just hold in your heart the sense of this group of people or animals, or all of us having a hard time. I just wish for compassion in the same way. May you be free from suffering. May you be free from pain,
May you be at ease.
and if you like, you can connect this practice also with yourself and open to any suffering that you might be having right now.
May I be free from suffering? May I be free from pain.
May I be at ease.
So as we end this practice, you can gently open your eyes, you can move around your fingers and toes.
So if this practice was helpful for you.
You can do this as a formal meditation practice in the way that we did, but you can also do this out in the world. When you hear a siren, you can just connect with a phrase of compassion for whoever it is who might be injured at the time. May you be free from suffering, may you be free from pain. Or if you read some story about difficulty in the world, you can also bring this up in your heart in reference to this group of people or country.
group of animals. So I hope this has been helpful for you and I wish you well. Thank you.
Dacher Keltner That was Buddhist meditation teacher Anushka Fernandopulle leading a practice in cultivating compassion for others.
You can learn more about the science of compassion, and how to cultivate it, in our show notes wherever you’re listening.
I’m Dacher Keltner. Thanks for taking this Happiness Break with us.
Let us know how this practice went for you, we really love hearing from you. Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag happiness pod.
Happiness Break is a production of PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.