"I have learned that human beings are not searching for philosophies, even though it may seem that way sometimes. We are searching for something we can trust. And when we find ourselves in the midst of change, the philosophies are like a broken crutch. They do not hold us up. What supports us is a force, an energy, a vortex of love that expresses through us as warmth, creativity, service, and compassion." — Stephen Schwartz
My deep inquiry in life has led me to develop practical pathways of living in the fullness and flow of life as a daily spiritual practice—what I call Living Compassion. In my trainings and retreats, I teach processes and offer inner maps that support transformation in areas of inner experience that were previously inaccessible.
CULTIVATING FULLNESS IN THE BEAUTY OF NEEDS
A foundational practice of Living Compassion is what I call cultivating and dwelling in the Beauty of Needs. This involves specific practice in relaxing into fully embodied energetic qualities of life (needs) and developing present moment awareness. Compassionate Communication is a language of the heart. Yet, we are not able to truly live the language of the heart unless we are able to access the heart. Needs are the qualities of the heart that manifest in us as longings or yearnings. To learn to cultivate and live in the fullness of these qualities is the essence of living the fullness of life itself.
An important aspect of self-compassion requires the development of simple presence. Presence is simple awareness. It’s not complicated and it doesn’t require an intellectual understanding to come to simple awareness of how the energies we call needs live in us.
INNER AND OUTER DIMENSIONS OF TRANSFORMATION
In the work of Living Compassion, there are the inner dimensions of cultivating self-compassion and living life in fullness. And, there is the outer dimension of how we live in the world and in all our relationships with compassion and full presence.
As we deepen into self-compassion and the work of inner transformation occurs, we become more aware of blockages that keep us from acting in integrity with our deepest values and that keep us from authentic or compassionate communication with others. Other practices I share focus on transforming life-alienating core beliefs and identities that reveal an unfolding of the precious life held under and through our vulnerability.
COMPASSIONATELY EMBRACING WHAT IS
The heart of self-compassion is coming to our inner experience with complete and total allowing. It is embracing what is. When we can relax that part of us that feels that we so desperately need to improve ourselves, we create space for just being who we are, as we are, as human beings. And in the spaciousness of this allowing, healing occurs.
Many of us live and seek relief through various spiritual and life practices. These often are filled with level of urgency to change, fix something, to make themselves better. And, so much of the time this urgency to change or to fix comes from a position—whether it is conscious or unconscious—of not fully being in acceptance of who we are.
IN THE HEART OF OUR FEAR IS THE FORCE OF LIFE AND LOVE
The work of self-compassion requires that whatever we are feeling inside, whatever previously we wanted to run from, that we tried to fix and get over—we begin to approach in a different way. We begin to approach it with the recognition that that which is inside of us is not the enemy, is not foreign or not alien to us. We can start to feel it beyond anything we can label and we start to feel a life energy, a life current that runs through the experience. When we allow rather than resist what is inside us, it begins to soften and we feel it as a fragility or vulnerability.
This experience is a deeply felt experience, not something we can intellectually understand. The understanding comes from a deeper place. When we can approach the life in us with this kind of openness and spaciousness allowing, then there is an unfolding of life in us in ways that is often totally unexpected. We cannot figure this process out. It’s the presence of the force of life and love itself that comes from the place that we least expected it -- from the heart of the fear within us. This is the beauty and possibility of the practice of self compassion: when we can turn around everything that we’ve learned about how we meet that life in us that we call pain and suffering.
When we are simply able to be with the pain or constriction and not work through it, that in and of itself creates spaciousness. That knot in our experience that we are trying to work through, wants spaciousness more than anything. It wants to be, it wants to open, it wants to flow. It doesn’t want to be manipulated or worked through or fixed. It doesn’t even want to be empathized with so that it can change to something else. It simply wants the presence of spacious allowing.
Presence is a quality of being and it doesn’t belong to us. It comes from some other place. It simply exists in us. That part of us that is alive and suffering, that is wanting, that has all this energy--when it is given spaciousness, we are actually releasing the life current itself. Compassionate presence allows the knotted form to unfold naturally. We don’t make it unfold; it unfolds naturally in the presence of compassion. There is a wisdom in this deeper process of healing. We don’t do the healing. Healing happens in the presence of love.
There is an utter simplicity in cultivating simple presence and unqualified acceptance when meeting our own experience. And we begin to meet others that way. We enter into our own heart with openness, which is a form of fearlessness. When we meet the life form in others, the life energy however it is expressed, with the same open fearless compassion, then more wonderful things than we can imagine will occur.