Practicing the Power of Compassionate Detachment
A common question I’ve been hearing lately is “How can I be happy when there is so much tragedy and chaos in the world?” People are feeling tremendously weighed down by the intensity of the world. Many are finding it challenging just to make it through their own day-to-day responsibilities and to stay centered.
How can we live with a light, unencumbered heart? How can we go about our day and not feel depressed about what’s happening in the world?
This ability to live within our own center, yet be fully engaged, is one of the vital skills that meditation teaches us. One of the most powerful ways we can shift out of deep suffering is to choose to see through the lens of compassion.
When I first started practicing Metta, the practice of compassionate loving-kindness, I was surprised at how liberating it felt. It brought a sense of deep peace and levity. Practicing metta was like being able to “see through the heart of God,” in which ALL could exist and be possible.
Many of us will have our own unique experience with loving kindness. For myself, I found it easier to look more closely at life experiences, without feeling personally upset, offended, or entangled.
By looking from a loving place, I no longer felt so weighed down by the seriousness of what I was thinking about. Compassionate practice allows us to experience presence, a deep intimacy with all of life. It cultivates a quality of spaciousness that allows for true healing and transformation to happen naturally.
Paradoxically, compassion brings a profound sense of detachment.
Detachment isn’t a cold act of distancing or passive aloofness. It’s a deeper, grounded understanding that allows us to see reality more clearly. There is great beauty in being able to experience and witness the “isness” of life without our own ideas of “shoulds” and “happy endings.” Metta connects us to our inherent wisdom. In certain traditions, it is understood that life is suffering.
With compassionate detachment comes a peaceful acceptance of life the way it is, and paradoxically, an even stronger potential for change.
When you find yourself getting wrapped up in the news and the personal tragedies of others, take a moment to practice compassionate detachment for yourself and others. With time, notice how it affects your mood and energy, and if it helps you breathe a little easier.
You might find that the continual practice of metta raises and expands your consciousness. Being in a lighter space also empowers you to take right, purposeful action.
While you may be present to the burden, beauty and tragedy of the world, don’t let it tear you apart to the point of powerless despair. Such experiences may move and touch you, but don’t dwell on the things you have no control over.While it’s natural to have empathy, don’t get lost in taking on the pain of others and creating a further tailspin of your imagination. Cultivate balance by bringing yourself back to your present moment.
The continual practice of compassion will give you the clarity and energy to focus on what’s important.
Sitting quietly a few minutes each day will nurture the seed of compassion within you. You’ll find it comes in handy, often.
May all beings be free
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature