While attending a Mindfulness retreat in the quiet, tranquil, picturesque Malibu hills, I had the opportunity to contemplate and consider the role of mindfulness in psychotherapy. It was a time of growth for me professionally and personally. Many misconceptions and perceptions surround the idea of mindfulness and I will not make an attempt to unravel them here; however, I will address how it can be useful in the practice of “loving-kindness” in community.
I have experienced, as many have, pain in relationship. It can be loss, physical wounds, or emotional hurts, to name a few, but whatever way presented it can affect us deeply. Often, we are left looking for some meaning, reason, or way to deal with what has happened.
For the Christian we look to Jesus for answers, strength, understanding and throughout scripture His resounding phrase “love one another” echoes. This can be among the most difficult tasks set before us. I would like to consider one approach to loving that can grow out of finding a place of empathy for others.
Can I consider that those who hurt me may not know the depth of their own pain? Can I hold my own pain long enough to I find a place in my heart to acknowledge another? Can I wrestle with feeling unloved and hated to ponder grace and mercy?
A quote used at the Mindfulness retreat led by Jerome Front, LMFT, was this:
"May that one I think does not love me, love themselves;
may that one I cannot feel in my heart, feel their own heart; may that one who hates me, not hate themselves;
may that part of me that hates another part of me, have mercy;
may mercy roll across the mind like a remembrance of some forgotten love;
may all we have forgotten of vanishing light, of fleeting moments of love, gather to heal us.”
For me this blasted forth the reverberation of Jesus’ command, “love one another”. In that moment I found myself thinking of someone who had treated me with such comtempt it can only be described as hatred.
I was able to think ‘perhaps they cannot love themselves.’ Wow, that opened a new path to empathy for someone who had caused me so much pain.
Brenè Brown explains one element of empathy as “…hav[ing] to be in touch with our own feelings in order to understand someone else’s.”
Can we muster the courage to consider something or someone outside our own hurt? And for a moment can we ignite a spark to love one another?
“Love never fails…” in our search for healing.
Ondrea Levine with Stephen Levine, from, "The Healing I Took Birth For: Practicing the Art of Compassion," Revised edition, Weiser, 2015
1 Corinthians 13
“Love Is All Around” online Tricycle magazine
Brenè Brown “Empathy vs Sympathy”