Cultivating Compassion in Intimate Relationships: A Practice

I am in the middle of facilitating an eight-week series entitled Relationship Building: Strengthening our Families, Partnerships and Communities here in Albuquerque.  This past week we closed our circle with a variation on a Compassion Exercise from Avatar.  Participants enjoyed it so much, I though I’d share it on my blog.  So here it is!

Special thanks to Rev. Jude Campbell at Unity Spiritual Center for leading us through the original Avatar practice during her lesson entitled Moved by Compassion on March 18, 2012.

p.s. You can still join us for the next workshop entitled Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Empathy, Honesty & Compassionate Communication on April 12, 2012, AND the Growing Authentic Intimate Relationships weekend intensive on May 12-13, 2012.

cultivating compassion in intimate relationships, nonviolent communication, emilah,  Photo Credit: Cornelia Kopp via Compfight

Cultivating Compassion in Intimate Relationships

Modified from http://www.midatlanticavatar.com/avatarcompassionexer.html

OBJECTIVE:

  • To increase the amount of compassion in intimate relationships (husband/wife, parent/child, lovers, intimate friendships, etc.)  Particularly in relationships where unhealthy communication patterns or judgments of each other interfere with connection and belonging.

EXPECTED RESULTS:

  • A personal sense of peace.
  • Increased willingness and ability to connect with yourself and others.
  • Creation of an empathic space within which to engage with another.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • This exercise can be done with people you care deeply about (parent, child, partner, intimate friend, etc.) as well as acquaintances (church member, employee, co-worker, supervisor, etc.).
  • Do the exercise often; especially when you find yourself judging them, afraid of them, or the like.

To Begin:

  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Visualize the person with whom you want to connect more deeply.
  • Do all five steps visualizing the same person.

THE EXERCISE:

Step 1: With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his/her life.” 

Step 2: With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.” 

Step 3: With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.” 

Step 4: With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.” 

Step 5: With attention on the person, repeat to yourself:
Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

 

When finished, move gently back into your day or interaction.

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