Our Anxiety & Depression Therapy Group is a place of empathy and compassion. We all want these priceless gifts from each other, and they are free for the giving. We listen to each other, feeling the pain, frustration, confusion, and disappointment, and that's all we have to do. That's empathy. Empathy's slightly taller, kinder, and more reserved sister is compassion. Our hearts go out to one another, accepting and appreciating the others' circumstances, history, limitations, boundless qualities, and everything else that makes up the whole package. No judgment, no expectations. We reach out with whatever that thing inside us is that some people call a soul. Is it energy? Is it an aura? Is it imaginary? It doesn't matter what it is. Because as long as we feel each other's reaching, spreading, enlarging, growing, we are getting what we came for. What we came to group for? Sure. But also what we came to this existence for: to give and receive compassion. Is that the meaning of life? Is that all there is to it? We wrestled with this question last week. No, not out loud. It felt more like we were wrestling with the meaning of suffering, but even that question wasn't asked. We didn't ask "meaning" questions. We just listened for meaning from one another. And we just responded with our own experiences. Did we make sense out of any of it? We didn't even try. But we were there. For each other. And ultimately, for ourselves. Compassion is, after all, circular.
If empathy and compassion are free for anyone to give, if they cost absolutely nothing, if each of us has an unlimited supply, then why are these commodities so rare out in the world? Circles have no beginning and no end. They are infinite in their circleness. No matter how much compassion is dispensed (to someone or to ourselves), there is always an unlimited supply standing by. Is it a question of just letting go? These too were questions we wrestled with. These too were silent queries.
Power, vulnerability, irony, paradox, compassion, empathy, ego, questioning, suffering, listening, grappling, enlarging? God, that must have been an exhausting get-together! It sounds even more challenging than spending the Holidays with family (or alone, or in the world)! Well, it wasn't. It was as effortless as whatever Snoqualmie Falls does when it's doing its thing. Yes, it's a pretty impressive, pretty powerful "thing," that thing that it does. And the fact that it happens works out pretty well for us. If you've ever just stood and watched it, you know that there's something about it. Something about all that power, all that magnificence, yet all that effortlessness that makes it hard to look away from. In fact, stopping it from happening would be a real feat. Just as stopping our own flow would take a lot of doing (or undoing). For 2015, it might make sense to let our compassion flow like never before; whether we're with people we trust in a safe place or whether we're out there, exposed to the elements.
In January of 1981, poet/philosopher Todd Rundgren released his album, "Healer." In the song, "Compassion," he proclaims the healing power of compassion to be stronger than any pharmaceutical. In 34 years, I have not found evidence to refute his claim. If you feel you could use the healing power of compassion in your life, there's one way to get more. You only have to let your inner compassion out. Giving and getting are two sides of the same spiritual coin.
And if you feel like you're out there all alone, without the support of a group like ours, without a flow that you can join in with, try starting small. Think of the thawing of an icicle. Most of us have one crystal clear drop of compassion to give, don't we? If you have trouble letting go of that droplet, if you feel it clinging, if starting the flow feels difficult, just remember: Compassion and water flow in a circle. I promise you won't run out. It may not be free, but you can afford it.