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Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Speaking of Compassion...

"What do you mean by Compassion?"

So a friend asked me. It's a good question.

As I began to break this down in my mind I was taken to the very first definition I learned of alcoholism.
It is Chronic.
It is Systemic.
It is Progressive.
It is Spiritual.
It is Terminal.

Each of these facets carries horrors and realities aplenty. Take them one at a time, or take them en masse. You are dealing with Alcoholism either way.

Compassion is like this, broken down or bundled. It is always compassion. And it is instructive to break it down.

In its purest form, compassion means "to love together with", where love includes the experience of suffering. Compassion is meant to illicit some sort of loving response to suffering. We both feel with others in our compassion and are moved to address that suffering in a loving way.

It is Emotional/Physical.
Compassion addresses that tug on our heart-strings when we behold distress, sadness, grief, loneliness, hurt, or need in others. We feel for them and with them; and, in turn, reach out to them. One can consider compassion as an idea, but with no expressed outlet it cannot thrive.

It is Spiritual.
Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism speak specifically to the idea of compassion. The context is nearly always non-judging and other-initiated love."We love because He first loved us." Grace, Loving-Kindness, Steadfast Love, Metta.

It is Contagious.
This is not always the case, but is so enough to make the point. Compassion, the action of Grace, works like a smile or a virus; it spreads through contact.

It is Transformative.
The receipt of compassion changes us substantially. We usually say this the other way around ("I am changed by being compassionate."). The change produced by giving, however, is limited. Substantial inner change is the result of grace, compassion, loving-kindness or Metta received.

It is Personal.
This really should be at the top of the list, but I put it here toward the bottom, since this is the position we naturally relegate it to. For compassion to be FULL it must begin with self. If we cannot have compassion on ourselves our compassion for others will always be tinged with a twisted judgment; an un-acquitted judgment on our perceived unworthiness which will lurk behind the grace we bring to others.

It is (ideally) non-Attached.
If we bring compassion to a person or situation, having first brought it to ourselves, it comes truly with no strings attached, and is ultimately compassion of the most redemptive sort. Most compassion we experience in life is attached in some way. But even that is better than no compassion at all.

It is Abreactive.
Compassion stirs up in us all sorts of life memories. We feel a mother's love. We remember a disorienting shock. We hear words of condemnation or words of encouragement. Some good. Some bad. All powerful.

Compassion is, I am sure, much more than these. What else might you add to the list?

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