Compassion derived in the English language by way of the Latin root “passio”, which means to suffer, paired with the Latin prefix “com”, meaning together – to suffer together.
Compassion brings alive an ability for connection from one person to another, offering an open space of not fixing or solving the suffering, but a space that the suffering is more approachable in the landscape of an open-heart connection.
So what exercises work to strengthen the compassion muscles?
Brain experts agree that what helps us understand suffering is to experience suffering. When we deliberately put ourselves into uncomfortable situations, say in the form of a challenging physical workout, we are more likely to feel empathy and compassion for someone who is experiencing struggle.
Science has also discovered that a circumstance that compromises our ability to feel compassion is when we need to make a quick decision. While making quick decisions, the right supramarginal gyrus is less active, and we tend to slip into egocentric perception.
Become more aware of what your whole being is experiencing during a moment when you are making a quick decision. In that moment, see if you can consciously call your right supramarginal gyrus into action.
Consciously remind yourself to feel empathy. Command your face to smile. Give someone, or yourself, a pat on the back and an encouraging word. Make your quick decision while you also send out loving kindness to the Universe.
Or, better yet, dedicate your quick decision to someone you love. In this way you will be actively triggering the mechanisms in the brain to release the hormone oxytocin and help you feel more love and compassion.
So, what else can we do to maintain a healthy right supramarginal gyrus?
To inspire compassion, we need practical words and techniques to work with in reality.
The more we command our own brain and heart to respond in a compassionate way the more reflective it can become in day to day living.