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  • Writer's pictureOrla Beaton

The Fire of Compassion

The word compassion has a bit of an image problem. Most often we associate it with being soft and gentle....almost passive. One of the things I learned on my Level 2 Training Course in Compassion with the Mindfulness Association is that compassion is anything but.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been feeling a wave of difficult emotions like grief and fear, possibly triggered by the change in the seasons but also by my son growing up and the sudden death of a dear spiritual friend. These waves are as normal as the waves on the ocean but they are painful and not comfortable to experience. My first approach was to turn towards the suffering and gently acknowledge and tend to it in meditation, however, I found this was making it worse as there was too much focus on my contracted body and breath. This morning I had a bit of a lightbulb moment. Compassion is not just about being aware and tending to the suffering, it is also about taking the best action to alleviate the suffering. I remembered that the antidote to feelings of fear is non-fear or courage. I remembered that the element traditionally associated with cultivating courage is fire. So I decided to do some yogic breathwork to tend my "inner fire" and cultivate "agni" or fire in the belly. I allowed myself to move into some stronger yoga postures to feel that strength inside, to remember. Tomorrow I plan to reintroduce some vedic chanting again to continue this process of connection with the warmth and joy of doing things you love. With just this elemental focus I already feel tons better.

If you feel stuck right now fire can give you a kick-start. It can be as simple as lighting a candle, a fire bowl in the garden or a fire inside your home. Children find it much easier to connect with their inner fire and often play with a freedom us adults long for. What would it take to touch that spirit again? Perhaps you could put on your favourite upbeat track and dance around the kitchen, sing in the shower or play with some paint.

It may feel at first that the fire has gone out or there is only a tiny flame but with patience and persistence that flame will grow. This is the fire of compassion.

We start a new block of yoga on Mon 20th Sept. Just get in touch if you would like to join in! The seasons and the elements are a big part of my work and I often bring sources of inspiration to class to help us transition more easily.

Om shanti, Orla x

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