Compassion — A Lifelong Journey

Alia Chandler — New Earth Paradigm

Thank you Barbara at Me, My Magnificent Self for inviting me to guest blog on this topic today. It happens to be a very relevant topic for me currently, which I will share in this post. Thank you to all who may read this and be encouraged to further their own journey of compassion.

Compassion — My Journey

A life-long journey toward becoming a more compassionate being has led me through experiences of — fear (of everyone and everything) judgment (of self and others) isolation (“I am alone and no one cares.”) victimization (“I am powerless and helpless to rise above this circumstance.”) hopelessness and grief (“There is no hope of ever getting out of this ‘hell’ I am in.”) – mingled with other experiences of self-reflection (“I am the common denominator of my experiences; perhaps I had some hand in shaping them?”) glimmers of hope (“Maybe there is a way to re-frame this experience and learn from it.”) acceptance (“I can take responsibility for this and feel more empowered.”) forgiveness (of myself, everyone and everything) and eventually, compassion, including self-compassion.

Of all the emotional “tones” described above, self-empathy (or self-compassion) has been the most challenging and elusive for me. At times, I have found it far easier to feel compassion for a snail than for my own self. My ego has held me to an almost impossible standard of behavior and achievement, egging me on to self-criticism, self-doubt and self-judgment, until I declared myself worthless and powerless.

The development of compassion within me has not been a straight line. My early childhood memories present many instances of feeling and showing compassion toward the menagerie of farm animals and pets in my life. My tender heart quailed at the prospect of hurting any of them even in the slightest way. On the other hand, I ruthlessly cut bees in half with scissors as they landed on flowers.

In my middle years, I wore a loving, accepting persona on the surface, while underneath lay the injured animal that lashed out at others from my wounded emotional state of pain and rage. My story is probably not so different from others who have been en-“cult”-urated by our western societal practices. This is not an excuse for my behavior but a statement of relative fact that my journey is nothing remarkable. It is merely my unique variation on the theme for those who tread the path of becoming a more compassionate person.

So, if I’d been able to view my journey toward compassion from above, my path might have looked at times like a backward, downward spiral.

As my awakening process became more conscious and deliberate, my compassion journey began to straighten out a bit. It gained momentum as I took responsibility for the situations that were happening in my life. Still, it was easier to feel and show compassion toward plants, animals and other people (the bees have been safe for decades now) than to feel it toward myself.

Why is it so hard to feel and demonstrate self-compassion, I wondered? Shouldn’t this be the starting point? Apparently, in my case, (and I suspect for many others) it has been the last leg of my journey, not the first.

During the past two years, I have focused more energy in this area: self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, self-empathy.  Almost exactly two years ago, I posted an article about compassion, as one of six virtues of the heart. You can read that post here. I summarized that post with this statement:

For me, Compassion is the natural response of my heart to the immediate needs of myself or another. Giving myself the permission to respond from my heart is the first compassionate act. It reflects that gentleness that I have come to understand is innately human.

When I wrote this series, I launched an intensified inquiry of Compassion and several other “Virtues of the Heart,” as presented in the teachings of James Mahu. Looking back now, I realize that it was more of an intellectual understanding, compared with the work that I have done in the past six months. However, it was a great step forward at the time that contributed to my forward progress.

Last December my husband and I moved into an intentional community where one of the stated intentions is for residents to communicate compassionately with one another, following the principles formulated by Marshall Rosenburg, author of several books about Non-Violent Communication. Merely by reading this information, Tomas and I began to speak and listen to each other more compassionately. As we sat in meetings and gatherings with other community members, we noticed how others, skilled in these techniques, spoke and listened to one another and how gently things could be said that might otherwise provoke an emotional reaction. We marveled at how people would ask questions in ways that drew people out without attacking or antagonizing them. By opening ourselves to communicating more compassionately, we are enjoying a more harmonious, fluid and gracious dynamic in our relationship as a couple, as well as with the relationships we are forming with other community residents.

One of the last chapters in Marshall’s book was a chapter on self-empathy. This chapter especially spoke to my heart, allowing me to truly begin to quell the ruthless “dictator” within and soothe the trembling child who had so longed for complete acceptance. Marshall’s exercises helped me to better “unhook” myself when I got triggered, to breathe through my automatic stance as “my own worst enemy” and to look upon myself and my situation with a more gentle, balanced perspective.  With practice, I began to heal this life-long dynamic and put into place this “last piece” for me which, as I said above, should have been the “first piece.” We all know intellectually that we cannot truly love or feel compassion for another until we can show it to ourselves. And so I find myself at a new level of ability to share my love with others, having finally given at least the basics of this gift to myself.

In early June of this year, I began reading The Book of Joy, by author Douglas Abrams. This book is the documentation of a conversation about living in joy – a week-long conversation between the Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Abrams interviewed these two spiritual giants in celebration of the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday in 2015. Chapter after chapter reveals these two dignitaries’ ability to rise above the many challenges and horrors of their lives and maintain a state of joy. And throughout the book, “compassion” runs a close second to the main topic of joy. Both of these men continually assure the reader that developing compassion for self and others inevitably leads to a more joyous life. Why is this so? I will conclude this post with a short quote from each of these great souls.

Archbishop Tutu:1 “Yes, I hope that [people] would try it (compassion) out, because it’s very difficult just speaking about it theoretically. It’s something that you have to work out in actual life. Try out being kind when you are walking in the street and say good morning to the people you are passing, or smile, when you are not feeling like it. I bet you my bottom dollar, in a very short period of time this pall of self-regard, which is the bad self-regard, lifts. It’s universal. When you try it out, why does it work? We really are wired to be caring of the other. And when we go against that fundamental law of our being, whether we like it or not, it is going to have deleterious consequences for us.”

The Dalai Lama:2 “Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness. . .”

The Buddha supposedly said:’ What is the one thing, which when you possess, you have all other virtues? It is compassion.’

  1. The Book of Joy, Abrams, Douglas, p 255
  2. The Book of Joy, Abrams, Douglas, pp 251,252
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A Wildflower Walk with Larry Part II

This is Part II of a series of posts about a two-hour wildflower walk/talk with Larry Yox, a resident here at Lost Valley Community in Oregon. If you missed Part I, you can find it HERE.

Larry Yox Wildflower Tour Guide

Continuing our walk through the meadow, on our way to the Creek Trail, Larry began to speak about the blue camas flowers that were spreading across the meadow in abundance. Camus is a kind of lily whose bulbs were a main staple of the indigenous peoples’ diet. They would dry the excess bulbs to use in winter. The camas were used like we use onions and additionally, for medicine.We refrain from picking them, so that they can propagate themselves in their natural manner.

A Field of Camas Was Sometimes Mistaken for a Lake by Pioneers (This is not our Meadow — Click image for photo credit.)

One hundred years ago entire meadows would be filled with blue camas flowers, giving pioneer settlers the impression that they were seeing a lake. Larry said he has seen our own meadow appear that way at times.  Larry also told me that the western buttercups and the blue camas do a kind of “pas de deux” at this time of year, making a beautiful yellow and blue carpet across the meadow. Two weeks after he told me this, I witnessed that exact image, as I gazed out across the meadow while my sister was visiting. She was taking photos right and left, enchanted by the blue and yellow carpet of wildflowers. Continue reading

A Wildflower Walk with Larry Part I

Larry Yox, Resident Wildflower Aficionado

Larry Yox is one of our longer term Members here at Lost Valley Community. He has a passion for many things but if you want to see his entire body light up — instantly — ask him a question about a wildflower. Any ole question will do. Be prepared to hear a college-level teaching lesson on the general subject, because once you get Larry started, his mind and knowledge just go on a tour of Wildflower World, whether or not you are actually looking at the subject in question. Larry has the flowers distinctly in his mind’s eye, so he is “seeing” everything he is talking about. And if you are willing, you can begin to see them too.

Bottom line: Larry Yox is a walking encyclopedia of botanical information. More specifically, he embodies an immense amount of information about the wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. Even more specifically, he has the keenest interest in the flowers that appear each year on our 87 acres of woodland forest and Savannah meadows. He is a living library on this topic.

The last week of April, I asked Larry to take me on a tour and talk to me on his favorite topic. He was delighted! We had only walked about 50 feet down the road toward the meadow and already, Larry began to speak about the plants along the way. These were not exactly wildflowers but they were plants that had beauty and value as herbal remedies. One plant in particular he pointed out, because of his early childhood memories associated with his father’s intense dislike for the plant. Larry had grown up maligning teasel, because his father had only negative things to say about it. Much later, Larry began to experience the beauty of this plant in its flowering and reproductive phases. He heard herbalists speak of the value of the plant as a “beneficial.” In addition to having its own healing properties, teasel helps the plants around it to be more healthy. Larry gained a new appreciation for this plant and he couldn’t help but pass that story of his change of mind and heart along to me.

So my first “wildflower” on the tour was not a wildflower at all but a majestic plant with six-foot tall spires that before they die, sport beautiful purple flowers, much like a thistle, although they are not thistles. The plants have a two-year cycle.  The stalk appears in the second year. The leaves at the base of these dead stalks are second-year growth. The first year occurs out of sight, underground. I was fascinated; I’d marveled at these plants for a decade and never had any information about them.

Teasel — Dead Stalks Complete Two-Year Cycle. These are Sometimes Sprayed Gold or Silver and Used in Dried Floral Arrangements

Second Year Teasel. The Plant has Been Growing Underground for a Year before the Leaves Appear. It Will Grow Stalks This Year.

Continue reading

The Dancer Within

I came “late” to dancing in this lifetime. I was nearly 40 before I discovered the joy that moving my body to music could produce in my Being. This discovery took me on a path of developing my heretofore very nonathletic self into a fairly competent, fit creature who did amazing things like bench press 2/3 of my body weight and swing on a full sized circus trapeze. I became adept at single-ski water skiing and even tried barefoot skiing a time or two. My body changed before my eyes and my love of dancing insured my continued tone and fitness for the next 20 years or so.

During those early dancing years, I made a promise to myself that “I would have a 25-year-old body by the time I was 40.” I kept that promise and celebrated my achievement by participating in the famed San Francisco Bay to Breakers 7.5 mile run that actually happened on my 40th birthday that year.

Once I reached that goal, I set another one for myself: “to have a 35-year-old body by the time I was 70.” Thirty years to accomplish that goal! It seemed like a safe and reasonable marker to set at the time. And for the next 15 years, I continued to dance, water ski and lift heavy boxes during my years as a personal organizer. I kept my level of fitness mostly by doing Life with enthusiasm.

Then — I took a detour! Or perhaps I returned to a path begun in my early 20s. My life became more inward. I still walked miles at a time but instead of the focus on my physical body, I put more attention on my mental and spiritual bodies. I practiced Presence, Awareness, Mindfulness, Compassion. Sadly, the dancing that had brought me so much joy, fell by the wayside.

Fast forward to December 2016: Tomas and I had just arrived at Lost Valley Community and three days later, we experienced our first First Saturday Dance! Continue reading

Aurora — View from the Observation Deck I

Alia’s Comments: Here is the next installment of my account of a beautiful City of Light (Aurora) that I was gifted in a vision in May of 2012. I am posting these visionary gifts again with the intention of you, my readers, infusing these images with your own love and spirit. This is a long segment, so I am posting it in two parts.

With so much drama and trauma occurring on our beloved 3D Gaia, many may have lost track of the fact that this apparent destruction of “life as we have known it” is taking us somewhere. The Hopi Prophecy says: “Remember, the river has a destination.” I believe that “destination” is New Earth — 5D Earth.

What we put our attention on gets stronger. So let’s put our attention on beautiful visions and images, trusting that what our 3D eyes are seeing is the final clearing and cleansing that precedes the appearance of our New Earth. As you read my version of just one crystal city, allow your own imagination to “see” your own version/vision of life in a world of peace, harmony, justice and unconditional love. Focusing on these thoughts is how we are creating New Earth. Enjoy the view from the Observation Deck!

View from the Observation Deck — Part I

Whether you are a first time visitor or a long time resident of Aurora, you will never tire of the views from the Observation Deck. Located at the base of the Golden Spire, it slowly rotates, so that a most marvelous overview of the surrounding land can be seen in all 360 degrees  — just by standing or sitting still.  Or you can stroll the promenade, if you wish to see everything more quickly.

Many evenings I have gone up to watch the setting sun (we still refer to it as Sunset, even though we all know that it is Gaia that is turning away from our local Source and supply of warmth and light.) Watching the subtle changes in color and light as Sol shares his last rays over the land and water, the shadows lengthening, the tones deepening — it is a solemn, sacred experience I cherish and carry in my heart each time, until I return for the next one. The openness on the Deck —  the sense of flight I get by being so high above the land and so embraced by the air currents, allows me to release any cares or tensions of my day (there are never more than a few now, if any at all.)

Sometimes I recline in a  deck chair, a beautiful enlivening drink in hand and visit with another witness of this evening ritual. On occasion, I am privileged to encounter a traveler from a distant Star Nation, perhaps one who is visiting for the first time. We sit in companionable silence for long moments, interspersed with telepathic comments so as not to disturb the hush that falls upon Aurora at this hour.  For this is an hour of magic, sacredness and glory that we each honor in our own ways,  giving thanks for the blessings of the day, before shifting into the more celebratory mood of the evening.

Many families gather to watch the sunset before returning home to dine and share the details of their day with one another. Or perhaps, they will dine out tonight or attend a concert or play, if such is being offered. Family time is considered sacred and precious, so most of our citizens choose to return home and enjoy the company of those whom they hold most dear. Continue reading