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Last week, I had the chance to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak at an event. It was wonderful. His topic was “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.” Just being in the presence of someone like that is perception-altering.

I’d like to think that I’m a fairly compassionate person, but the Dalai Lama’s emphasis on compassion towards others as the path to not only a more peaceful world, but a happier and more peaceful heart, really got to me. Buddhists refer to it as “intelligent selfishness.”

“Whether or not our kindness brings benefit to others will depend on a great many factors, some of which will be outside our control. But whether we succeed in bringing benefit to others or not, the first beneficiary of compassion is always oneself. When compassion, or warmheartedness, arises in us and shifts our focus away from our own narrow self-interest, it is as if we open an inner door.”

Beyond Religion by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I’ve been trying to practice compassion in even deeper ways.

Compassion in the yoga studio is something I want to work on. I struggle with getting frustrated with the yogi who is flopping around, or the newbie who is getting defiant and mad at the teacher. I try to remember that we are all dealing with our own demons in there, but sometimes it’s all I can do to not yell “This is a peaceful place and I’m trying to meditate and be one with the universe, so shut the fuck up!”

Compassion fail.

So clearly that needs some work, but what also deserves some attention is my level of compassion for myself.

My ankle has been bothering me lately. I don’t know what I did to it. I put ice or heat on it – it still hurts. I do lots of yoga or no yoga – it still hurts. I put it up or massage it – it still hurts. My ankle is just tender and there is nothing that seems to make it any better or worse. It just is. It just needs time.

But I catch myself glaring at this ankle. Rolling my eyes at it when those shooting pains come and cursing it when it doesn’t behave like it used to.

This is no way to treat an ankle that has done nothing wrong for the past 33 years.

So, I’m trying a new route of uber-compassion for others, for myself and for my ankle. I’m doing my best to withhold judgment. I’m seeing what it’s like to just flood my world with understanding, patience and gratitude for whatever might come. Bring it on, and I will do my best to welcome it with open arms.

So far, it feels really good. His Holiness might just be on to something here.

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