arts & compassion: week three

. . . c r e a t i v e  p r a c t i c e . . .

         This week, we read in Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to A Compassionate Life. What I took to heart the most were her words on self-compassion. As this is an idea that I had never thought of before, I was intrigued and began to think of ways that I could offer myself more opportunities for self-compassion. One area that came to mind was that I need to be kinder to myself. Not only with my own thoughts, but also when admitting my faults to others and the way I would describe myself to a stranger. In previous weeks, we learned that our ideas of compassion can be different as well as our actual acts of compassion. The idea that onlookers ten to avoid eye-contact with homeless individuals holding a sign for help allowed me to admit that I am guilty of avoidance in an area where there could have been an opportunity to show compassion. Sitting in church this past Sunday morning, our pastor spoke about compassion. Ironically, he held up two cardboard signs and brought up the idea that most people resist making eye-contact with those individuals holding signs that ask for help in order to avoid the natural feelings of compassion that humans have. He spoke about how we may want to help someone, but then go into a thought process that invites fear into the considered compassionate gesture and we may not always follow through with our intrinsic intentions. This week, he challenged the congregation to take ten dollars and find some way to perform a compassionate gesture. Upon closing the message, the pastor held up a cardboard sign that read, “do you see me?” Sparking my thoughts, I immediately searched my memory files of any homeless or sign- holding people I actually have made eye-contact with- not enough.

Thinking about compassion for others made me think about our ideas on love and grace. When offering either of the two, we must first offer them to ourselves to yield the best results for all involved. Perhaps this is the same for self-compassion. As we all have unique lives with our own struggles, we must walk our own paths, be kinder to ourselves, and offer a little more self-compassion. For this week’s prompt, I created a drawing of a daily occurrence in my life- talking to my mom on the phone. The drawing depicts an idea of my mom and me looking myself in the mirror with her and telling her what I see, while she is thinking something totally different. She then reminds me that my feelings about myself are allowed and a reminder to be kinder to myself, offer more grace to myself, and to look at the good that I have to offer. The compassionate gesture is my mom recognizing that I was having a difficult time, empathizing with me, and then offering helpful words to bring me back to reality. Perhaps if I could learn to be more self-compassionate, the rest of the world around me would be seen differently through my lens as well.

 Here is a photo of the pastor holding up the cardboard sign that reads, “do you see me?” img_2970

Below is the self-compassion focused drawing.





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