10 ways to build compassion today

During my practice of meditation in the past year, I’ve made many strides in trying to understand my true Self. Here I define Self with a capital “S” because the Self is inseparable from who I am. Who am I? The world knows me as Sai Santosh Kumar — a name given to me by parents. Sai meaning “Holy”, Santosh meaning “Happy”, and Kumar meaning “Boy/Man”. So I’m essentially a Holy Happy Man (haha). But does this name describe me? Is it who I really am? Can this name entirely encapsulate my existence? Maybe. These were all the introspective nature of questions I’ve had through out my years in college until I started practicing meditation. I realized that through out my practice, my existence and the existence of others is simply beautiful. This knowledge had led me to become a more compassionate person.

Now I don’t mean to preach meditation or convert you but meditation is one way I think I’ve made so progress to become more compassionate and sensitive to the world around me. Naturally, being a Hindu, I’ve been influenced by the yogis of ancient India have understood the breath to be connected with the mind; meaning that when our thoughts change, our breath changes. A sad or angry mental state of mind alters the breath and how we channel it. It changes the flow of “prana,” “chi,” or “ki” — the life force that sustains the body.

Therefore, the breath is extremely powerful. One must understand the importance of it. The breath that leaves our body and comes into our body every second is the living power of the Universe. We all know that if it leaves you one second and doesn’t come back, game over. Yet we take it for granted, as if it will sustain our mortal beings forever.

I tend to digress but the point is that whatever practice we prescribe to in our ability to understand ourselves, one thing is clear: it should lead us to become more compassionate. I know my practice of breath-based meditation has allowed me to become more sensitive to my surroundings, nature, the people I’ve never met. As I’ve watched myself over the years, this process of slowing down has allowed me to become more compassionate. I still have a long way to go — I am no Dalai Lama or Mahatma Gandhi by any means — but I sincerely believe that we can all achieve that mental state. By being in peace with ourselves, we can become a powerful — compassionate — force in the world.

Here are some other ways you can nurture your compassionate nature.

Ten ways you can build compassion today:

1) Taking 10 minutes out of your day to understand your body. Sit down and massage your face with your thumbs, Massage your hands. Massage your thighs, hips, and legs. Work your way down to your feet and massage it. During this time, think of your body. Your existence. Be content with having this body. Appreciate yourself. First step to build compassion towards anything is to first build compassion towards yourself.

2) Take time to appreciate your Breath. The sensation of your breath coming in and out of your nose. The breath that powers your lungs. The breath that gives you your energy. Tell yourself, “I love you breath! Thank you for being with me.” Do this everyday.

3) Is there a squirrel or a deer in your back yard? A bird that’s always on your porch? I bet there is some ant or tiny critter on your front door just wandering around. Find a time of the day and go feed it. Give these beings of nature your love, your unconditional love. Humans might have jealousy, hate or anger towards you but these beings give you what you give them. Build compassion by feeding the nature around you today.

4) Say “thank you” often and say “I’m sorry” often. Doesn’t matter if it was your fault or not, if something has happened in your presence that has caused others harm then whole-heartedly express your sorry. If someone shows gratitude towards you, say thank you. Life is short. You’re in this body for God knows how long. Say sorry often and say thank you often. Build the attitude of gratitude. This will make you a wonderful being.

5) Keep your heart open. Neither hate nor love should completely control your heart. Too much love and you might be vulnerable. Too much hate and you might become a power of destruction! Just be as you are. Open your heart and reciprocate peacefully to others. Your open heart will open the hearts of many others around you. Remember you are Divine light! You just need to express it.

6) Be aware of the nature around you. Go for a walk. Feel the wind on your skin. Touch the leaves of a tree. Go freaking hug a tree! Grow your own vegetables, fruits, flowers in your home. Smile at a random stranger. Give a child a hug (children are closer to nature with their unconditioned mind than adults are). Just be aware of the beautiful world that exists around you.

7) Do your job. Do it right. Whether it’s being a good husband, wife, mother, daughter, sister and brother. Do what it is that you need to do to be good. Be obedient and kind to your loved ones. Never do anything that pushes them away. Open your being to them. Compassion starts at home.

8) Be understanding. If someone yells at you, someone hurts you. Don’t conquer them with the same but just say, “Okay, I’m sorry”. Own up to it if it is your mistake. If it is not, walk away or remain silent. Do something that will allow them to understand themselves. Just be understanding. It is okay to assume that they might be fighting a tough battle. Let it be.

9) Be honest with yourself. Don’t just understand others but try to understand yourself. Who you are and what you are is up to you and you only. This starts with understanding your being first and the only way to do that is by listening to yourself. Take some time out of your day to do nothing. Sit and do nothing and just listen to yourself.

10) Think of humanity at large. You are in a body. A beautiful body. This body is a privilege. It is an honor. Is what you are doing today helping the world around you? Is what you are saying today helping the people around you? Will you be satisfied with the life you are leading today while you are on your deathbed? When you look back at all that you have done, will you be able to leave this temporary, material body with a peace of mind? Ask yourself.

© Sai Santosh Kolluru

Originally published at medium.com