Compassion : solidarity of the heart

One of my students last week admitted that she did not really understand why compassion is a good thing. I understand that very well, because in French, the concept of compassion is not so easy to combine with a positive meaning…

I found one day this definition : Compassion (from Latin « cum patior », I suffer with and from Greek « συμ πἀθεια » , sym patheia, sympathy) is a virtue – by which a person is carried to perceive or to feel the suffering of others, and urged to remedy it.

Compassion is rooted in respect for the dignity of life (all life) and a desire to see that dignity triumph. Described by the Sanskrit words “maitri” and “anukampa”, Buddhist compassion could be referring to the desire to relieve suffering and to give joy. As a sense of solidarity with all life, compassion arises from a wish for mutual happiness and joy.

So, “genuine compassion, according to Buddhism, is about empowering others, helping them to unlock strength and courage from within theirs lives in order to overcome their problems” (…). Thus, the essence of compassion is empowerment.

Teaching-sharing a yoga class implies for me to offer others effective encouragement in specific circumstances, making them aware of their own unrealized – or not yet realized – potential, making them believe in themselves, giving them enough support to go further, and emboldening them to even surpass themselves.

A yoga class is an allegory of life : we suffer on the mat, we have joy on the mat, we support each others, we feel a lot of emotions, it’s a beautiful moment, shared and sacred. I hope that what I give on a yoga class has a beneficial effect also outside the mat.


And for those who sometime have doubt, like myself, I just remember a proverb of Africa : “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito”.


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