I like the concept of “lovingkindness” – yes it’s joined up like that in the Authorised Version of the Bible. I think of it as compassion in action. Compassion arising from empathy, that ability to see and feel the world from another’s perspective, to identify with another’s suffering.
Compassion takes us a step beyond identifying with another’s suffering, because merely identifying with that suffering can leave us feeling anxious and helpless. Showing compassion involves a commitment to act, to do something to relieve that suffering, to support and to be alongside.
Christopher Germer, who with Kristin Neff, has done much to explore and spread the practice of compassion, describes compassion as:”When love meets suffering and stays loving, then we have compassion.”
This can definitely be a challenge, particularly if that suffering is at a distance from us and on a massive scale – Gaza, Ukraine, … So where do we begin?
I think we can begin with ourselves, with self-compassion. With practising lovingkindness on ourselves. Everyone gains when we take care of ourselves. After all, we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves. So where better to start?