Compassion (noun): sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Recently, I was asked why I was so good at demonstrating empathy, compassion, and caring for other people but was demonstrably terrible at showing it for myself.
I was stumped.
I have no idea why we are so often our harshest critic. Why we are so often more critical, more judgmental, more unrealistic in our expectations for ourselves, less forgiving, less understanding, and less compassionate for the mistakes and failures we, ourselves, make. Am I not as human as the person whom I just showed my sincerest compassion to?
Isn’t mindfulness a key component of self-compassion?
A couple weeks ago I was traveling for work…again. Rundown, anxious, exhausted, wanting to body-check every single person waiting in line for the TSA. I was dreading getting on this plane and flying across the country. It felt too overwhelming, too stressful, frankly, it felt like too much. I was OVER IT.
I decided on a whim to try and practice some mindfulness and I found myself inspired to write the following:
“There is nothing more rewarding than finding complete and utter solace from the insanity that is an airport. I found an isolated bench near a small bakery with literally no one else sitting down and it was as if I had stepped into another world. A world without PA announcements and fighting for the end seat with your tired traveling counterparts, no conversations being held inappropriately loudly, and the ability to stop, take a breath, and realize that you made it past the first hurdle that is the glamour of business travel.
I meditated in the middle of Dulles. I rested my gaze on a doorknob and that doorknob became the center of my universe and focus. It was…surprisingly calming. And the act itself felt reassuring like my body and mind knew what to do. I certainly didn’t care that I was that person sitting cross-legged, palms open, breathing deeply in the middle of an airport. I felt present and”
I don’t know what happened that caused me to stop in the middle of my thought process. I have looked at my “notes” several times and tried to figure out the end of that sentence, but I can’t.
And I realize this: I had a fleeting moment of mindfulness but that moment allowed me to reset the tone for the rest of my trip. It was a small and unplanned moment. But, every time I looked back on my notes, I remember the serenity I felt–not the words I wanted to finish writing but the feeling. And THAT, my friends, is mindfulness.
“If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve.”
“Goddesses don’t speak in whispers, they scream.”
“If you wait long enough in life, something will undo your certainty.”
“When was the last time you took a step back and asked yourself if what you consider your essential truth is even truth?”
“You do not judge anyone for where they are in their journey. No matter what.”
“Passion takes what it always demands: everything.”
I turned 30. I feel the same mostly, except that my knees hurt a little more when I go up the stairs, I have more gray hair than I ever thought possible, and I use an anti-wrinkle eye cream.
And, I still am on my journey to mindfulness. I guess some things take longer than 30 years.