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Mindful : April 2013
Compassion opens our attention and makes it more inclusive, transforming the way we view ourselves and the world. Instead of being so caught up in the construct of self and other and us and them that we tend to see the world through, we see things much more in terms of connection to all. This fundamental transformation from alienation begins with more kindness to ourselves. Even in techniques that don’t particularly emphasize kind- ness or compassion, these qualities are inevitably being developed in meditation. If we go back and look at the foun- dational exercise I described, developing concentration, we find that it is often done by choosing an object such as the feeling of the in and out breath, then settling our attention on it. What we dis- cover in the beginning, some- times to our shock, is that it usually isn’t 800 breaths be- fore our minds wander. More commonly, it is one breath, maybe two or three, then we are lost. Maybe very lost in a fantasy or memory. Then comes the moment we realize we’ve been distracted. Our common response would be to feel that we’ve failed, to rail against ourselves. What we practice, though, is letting go gently rather → 3. compassion in practice 74 mindful April 2013 insight