Archive for Compassionate Seattle

Compassion is a two-way stream – one must give in order to receive

By Atit Marmer

My entire life has been committed to learning and understanding the giving and receiving of compassion. My first memory of an event involving this spiritual path goes way back to the sixth grade when our class visited a student art show presented by a school situated in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up.

I felt the pain and resilience of the students, many of whom were my age, and I instinctively reached out to a number of them, talking and laughing with them, sharing in their joy at the display of their talents. Little did I know then that my calling in life as a therapist was to stand in the gap with all who have been in my resonance; the gap between the chaotic experiences of life and the joy of discovering our true nature. Nothing I could have articulated then, but something I intuitively knew.

As I’ve grown through my dharma path the most important realization opened up to me is that compassion is a two-way stream. As I offer this delicious fruit of love I likewise receive it and as I receive it I can’t help but give my compassion in return. It’s really as natural and instinctive as breathing. I believe love and compassion are not just verbs and nouns but more essentially are the descriptors of my being. In other words by my very nature I am love and compassion. It’s only when I stand in my own way that this does not take place.

He lived compassion at life’s end

By Alanna Gunne

Lying in his bed, he listened to the sounds of life.  He could smell the pot roast cooking in the kitchen and hear his housemates moving through the halls.  A movie was playing on his VCR and he was comfortable.  He had not envisioned his life this way.  He loved the beach and the sunshine.  He loved his work and his many friends knew him as a passionate foodie.  Assisted by his pain medications, he often dreamed of those days.  In a way it was a gift because he could live in whichever memory he chose – and he chose the best ones every time.

Chris Hawkins was pretty sure he would not live much longer – although over the years he had entertained this possibility countless times and still – here he was.  Thinking of ‘life’ he sometimes counted off the living that he could no longer accomplish.  First of all, he was blind – so he could no longer watch his beloved movies or see the smiles on his friends’ faces.  His frame was skeletal and he could no longer walk.  His kidneys were shutting down so his ‘big day out’ was going to the clinic for dialysis.  All of his physical and social needs were supported by the staff and volunteers at Rosehedge – his home for 14 years.

Compassion.  That was the word Chris used to describe the lifeblood that kept him going – countless acts of compassion and love.  The house cook stopped by his room regularly to chat and find out what he felt like eating.  They had long foodie talks and had become real pals.  CareTeam volunteers sat with him, sharing movies and conversation.  One older gentleman became his best friend.  With the help of a wheelchair, they would roam the neighborhood.  He would feel the fresh air on his face and listen to the kids as they raced home after school.  The nursing staff loved Chris – in fact, everyone loved him because he was so ready with a smile and encouraging word even when the days were hard to live through.

One evening, he fell asleep listening to a movie.  The nurse came in to see him and realized that he was in crisis.  That night Chris left his body in the local emergency room and was suddenly free of pain and restriction.  Those he left behind mourned.

Chris’ memorial service was held on a sunny afternoon at the church across the street from his home.  His family came from California and Portland; his friends came just as far. His father, who was in the hospital at the time, attended the service via Skype. One of his former house nurses came from Bellingham.  There were house staff, volunteers and housemates – all gathered to honor him, remember his life and support each other in their grief.  His 8-year-old nephew played the violin.  Memories were shared and the healing began.

And as Chris watched this gathering of people who had touched his life, he recognized that he was right all along.  His world was COMPASSION.

 Alanna Gunne is a  Companis Worker placed with Rosehedge/Multifaith Works,  which serves those living HIV/AIDS by providing housing, compassionate health care and supportive services that enhance the quality of their lives.

Looking for compassionate solutions to gun violence

Submitted by What’s Good 206

Why should you care about gun violence?

“It has no race, no creed, no age barriers. If it hasn’t affected you yet, it will if it continues.”

Stark words from one man interviewed in this array of community voices recorded at an anti-gun violence rally at Seattle’s Martin Luther King Memorial Park.

“It needs to be talked about among your family and friends,” says a police officer.

“We have to work to get the community out to say we’ve had enough of the gun violence and to mentor young men and older men and women on how to go through the healing process of having a son been a perpetrator and wrap our arms around them and say there’s healing,” says a pastor.

Listen closely. What you are hearing are solutions.

 

What’s Good 206 is Seattle’s source for youth driven media and information.

You are compassion

Submitted by Dee Williams

Many people are studying compassion in order to introduce it into schools and other places. Some say it should be taught. Others have won awards for their programs that teach about compassion. Cities are touted as being the most compassionate. I guess this might be similar to the idea that “a corporation is a person”. Are we really ready to get serious about compassion? Even just saying the word may evoke a spark of “something” for you or me. I know that when I say or see the word it is as if I know it “compassion” intuitively.

My first impression about compassion was during my childhood when my pet hamster died. It was a sad time for me. But my friends and I decided to give the hamster a funeral. It was as if everyone came together to share my grief and help me get through that period of pain. I don’t recall that anyone laughed at the idea. I just remember that ceremony was just what I needed at the time.

I believe it is in us to be compassionate. We have an innate ability for compassion. I think it is linked to the same sense that tells us right from wrong. It is a felt sense of awareness about what is needed in a particular situation such as when a family member or pet dies. We have the instinctive response to feel sad for the person who lost a loved one (empathy) and the desire to perform some action that will help the other person feel better.

Compassion is part of our nature. It might be buried deep under some other emotion such as anger or fear making it difficult to fully express your compassion. If compassion is built into our human nature what does it take to nurture this quality? Can our innate compassion be further developed at all stages of our life? I think this is possible. I have read about great results from the practices of yoga and meditation to help many people open their hearts and allow their nature of compassion to grow. Once your heart opens you may begin to feel somewhat vulnerable to the ebb and flow of life. But it is our ability to connect with our own internal struggle for self-compassion that is the gateway towards directing our compassion towards others.

Instead of giving ourselves over to the struggles (obstacles) of life and feelings of defeat or hopelessness our practice of yoga and meditation guide us gradually to see the struggles of life with clearer vision and bring forth from within the strength and wisdom to overcome our obstacles. In learning the art of yoga and meditation we find the intuitive wisdom that reveals compassion as one of the many qualities built into our human nature. We also find the needed nurturing for opening our hearts.

And one effort to open hearts worldwide there is the Charter for Compassion and Seattle’s Compassionate City Proclamation. Check it out.

Dee is a local author and local instructor

She writes a blog at http://thekanjinyogacenter.blogspot.com/