A little more on compassion

As my attention has been on compassion recently I remembered that Rick Hanson’s book Resilient (2018) discusses compassion since it is linked to well-being and resilience. In his book AWARE, 2018,  Dan Siegel also mentions that ‘… focused attention, open awareness, and the training of compassion, or what we are calling kind intention are three of the core ingredients of how we create well-being and happiness in our lives’. Skimming through the chapters of Resilient I chose a few short extracts relevant to compassion to accompany my  drawing today.

‘My own path of well-being began with compassion, as it does for most people. Compassion for yourself is fundamental, since if you don’t care how you feel and want to dosomething about it, it’s hard to make an effort to become happier and more resilient. Compassion is both soft and muscular. For example, studies show that when people feel compassion, motor planning areas in the brain begin preparing for action. Compassion is a psychological resource, an inner strength. ….’

‘Compassion for yourself is where you startwhen things are tough, not where you stop. Research by Kristin Neff and others has shown that self-compassion makes a person more resilient, more able to bounce back. It lowers self-criticism and builds up self-worth, helping you to be more ambitious and successful, not complacent and lazy. In compassion for your own pain is a sense of common humanity: we all suffer, we all face disease and death, we all lose others we love. Everyone is fragile…’

‘The key to growing any psychological resource, including compassion, is to have repeated experiences of it that get turned into lasting changes in neural structure or function. It’s like recording a song on an old-fashioned tape recorder: as the song plays— as you experience the resource— you can help it leave a physical trace behind in your nervous system…….’

‘……the neocortex, which started expanding with the first primates about 50 million years ago; it has tripled in volume since early hominids began manufacturing tools 2.5 million years ago. The neocortex has enabled humans to be the most social species on the planet. It is the neural basis of empathy, language, cooperative planning, and compassion— sophisticated ways to meet our needs for connection….’

The human heart is the first home of democracy

‘Will we wake up beyond kind of toxic biases and sense of hierarchy that leads to domination and subjugation? Will we really embrace others …?’ Tara Brach

While and between drawing these last two or three days I have re-read bits from Terry Tempest William’s book: When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, watched an old film based on the life of Marva Collins, the teacher who believed that ‘once children learn how to learn, nothing is going to narrow their mind. The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another’, and also, listened to Tara Brach talk about compassion for the self and others. So, today I am accompanying my drawings with some ideas that were salient these last few days.

‘The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions: Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinion? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up, trusting our fellow citizens to join us in our determined pursuit-a living democracy?’ Terry Tempest Williams

‘Word by word, the language of women so often begins with a whisper’
‘When one woman doesn’t speak, other women get hurt’ Terry Tempest Williams

‘Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide’ Marva Collins

‘Until kids decide, ‘I am a miracle. I am unique. There is no one else exactly like me,’ they can never draw the conclusion, ‘because I’m a miracle I will never harm another person who’s a miracle like me’ Marva Collins

Today along with my most recent drawing I’m posting some quotes from the book: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan because on one of the Radical Compassion Challenge podcasts hosted by Tara Brach, actress Sandra Oh referred to The Joy Luck Club film, which inspired part of this drawing. I have been drawing while listening to the podcasts, and even though multitasking may not be such a great idea, it saved me time and I got to listen to the podcasts twice. Although I gave the book away a while ago during a recycling spree I re-watched the movie on you tube and realised that even though the book and film are about Chinese women’s experiences, the basic themes of oppression, sexism and power dynamics in marriages, immigration and communication barriers,  generational transmission of patterns and customs and the power of story and love to connect and create transformation and identity shifts, are relevant to many cultures.

“That is the way it is with a wound. The wound begins to close in on itself, to protect what is hurting so much. And once it is closed, you no longer see what is underneath, what started the pain.”

“Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones. You must peel off your skin, and that of your mother, and her mother. Until there is nothing. No scar, no skin, no flesh.”

“But now that I am old, moving every year closer to the end of my life, I also feel closer to the beginning. And I remember everything that happened that day because it has happened many times in my life. The same innocence, trust, and restlessness; the wonder, fear, and loneliness. How I lost myself.”

“After the gold was removed from my body I felt lighter, more free. They say this is what happens if you lack metal. You begin to think as an independent person.”

“This house was built too steep, and a bad wind from the top blows all your strength back down the hill. So you can never get ahead. You are always rolling backward.”