The Mindful Leadership Summit in DC this past week was an uplifting event.  I am so grateful to have attended.

Mindfulness may also be thought of as presence.  As the act of bringing your undivided attention to the here and now.

Perhaps not a new concept, but for most a new practice.  As is compassion.

Mindfulness might be thought of as the place of attention, compassion as the interaction with that which is in the present.

Mindfulness is the intention, practice and expansive awareness of gently focusing your mind, clearing away distractions, and “syncing up” with yourself and the world around you in a non-judgmental awareness.  The effects are reported as calming, energizing, feeling more alert, less irritated, more well, and the list continues.

I believe one of Mindfulness’s calming and energizing benefits arises from the experience of feeling yourself in the landscape.  Because we are mostly aware of ourselves based on feedback from the world around us, think people’s opinions, what we see, hear or take in as stimulation, we tend not to give ourselves a fair amount of nurturing attention.  This lack of attention for, and awareness of ourselves creates stress.  Our need for survival becomes reliant upon what is out there to determine our well-being and safety.  When we are mindful, we become real.  Our spirit is nurtured, we are more than perceivers and reactors to the please the word in a way that keeps us safe, we are the active creator, part of the process.  This initiates the calming of our power.  It reduces frustration because it puts us in the flow of creation.

My experience with mindfulness is increased creative flow, the ability to see what is next, improvement in relationships, more energy in every area of my life and I get great parking spots.

Compassion is the twin of Mindfulness, together they are exponential increased in their value.

Compassion is the guide to the actions you take based on the information mindfulness provides.

In other writings I borrow the definition of compassion as ” the ability to see suffering in yourself and others, and the willingness to take action to end that suffering.

A few challenges we face:

  1. We must advance our understanding of compassion from the realms of the monks, mystics and sidelined mothers to the truth that is a source of infinite power.
    1. It has been claimed that Compassion is the beginning of true wisdom, creating the capacity for increased intelligence and well being.  Science is backing up these claims with extensive research on the human technology that compassion provides.
  2. We must stop pretending that we all need to be strong, virile, and dominant to be valuable.  These are cloaks that are worn to defend against the reality that all humans suffer.  Pretending we don’t is destructive.
    1. Worse, in pretending we don’t suffer, we often abuse the most vulnerable.
      1. No one wants to look at homelessness, because somewhere inside we all know that no one is immune from loss and mental or emotional devastation.
      2. Too often we make choices in a vacuum that creates difficulty for others, then instead of seeing what we can do to make it better, we fear being wrong and turn a blind eye, or find a way to make the less fortunate at fault.
      3. We have illnesses, strained relationships, and hearts longing for connection and purpose, but these calls are left unanswered if we don’t admit that we are suffering.  Nothing can change for the better unless you look under your own mask.

So if we start by admitting that we and everyone we meet is suffering in some way, we can stop deluding ourselves.

I challenge each person reading this to have the courage to look at the ways you suffer.  Not the ways you blame others for your suffering, look at how you suffer.  Because anyone you blame is suffering equally or greater and it is likely that you are reacting to their suffering instead of healing your own.

This is the wisdom of rising above the concept of cause and effect.  Cause and effect is real, but it is also relative, and is often solved in your interior world rather than in the world out there.  The good news about that is:  you actually have the power to affect your inner world more quickly, more directly than your outer world.  As you put more attention on inner mastery, the outer wold is guaranteed to respond to you anew.

This gives you a clue about how every single person you meet is suffering.  Wealthy, poor, healthy, ill, on and on.  Some suffer more, but if even those of us who suffer least will be mindful of our suffering, and take compassionate actions on our own behalf, then we are taking the steps out of the pain and into the world we are capable of creating.

If you are mindful, present, in the world, you know your place as you feel your purpose in the moment.  When you choose compassion, you know the correct action for you to take in the moment.  Sometimes that action is about taking care of yourself.  Sometimes it is about taking care of another;  most often, the difference is imperceptible.