One of the important elements of what we know as ‘Mindfulness’ is compassion for others. Jesus had a lot to teach us about compassion, and how this impacts on the way we live together as a community, when He said: “… Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Less obvious to our modern day eyes are the ways in which Jesus broke the social ranking codes of his day in doing this. He talked with women; ate with tax collectors; treated Samaritans as equals; showed kindness to prostitutes; and befriended those on the margins of society. He was also clear in His challenge for us to serve others above, and before, ourselves.
This means intentionally stepping away from the prejudices and judgments that come so naturally to us and to see people as fellow human beings on a journey through life. Sharing our journey with others is central to the Christian gospel and an important element in the practice of mindfulness.
It’s been proven, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, that people have a greater sense of contentment and purpose when they offer compassion to others. The Dalai Lama said recently on Twitter:
I really feel that some people neglect and overlook compassion because they associate it with religion. Of course, everyone is free to choose whether they pay religion any regard, but to neglect compassion is a mistake because it is the source of our own wellbeing.
Where is all this leading, you may ask?
Well, we are soon to enter the Season of Lent, a time when we remember the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his ministry. Lent, for many, is an opportunity to practice some form of abstinence or a stimulus to enter into a less indulgent lifestyle. Why not, instead of ‘giving’ something up for Lent this year consider ‘doing’ something instead? Might you be willing to commit yourself to offering compassion to others this Lent?
It seems as though you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
The following three suggestions, it seems to me, formed a significant part of Jesus’ compassionate ministry and give a helpful model if you (dare) choose to ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’
ACTS OF RANDOM KINDNESS
It could be something practical such as: running an errand; tidying someone’s garden; picking up litter; paying towards the grocery/petrol bill for someone behind you in the queue; giving a complete stranger a box of chocolates or flowers! Your imagination could run wild on this one! Why not sign up to the BARK (Billericay Acts of Random Kindness) Facebook / Webpage for more ideas?
SHARING A MEAL
Might you be willing to offer hospitality to neighbours you don’t know and friends you’ve yet to meet? There’s nothing more social and engaging than food and conversation. When we eat and talk together we discover how many of us share the same hopes, fears and disappointments. We often gain strength and encouragement as we learn from the experiences of others.
Sometimes we can be so busy being busy that we don’t make the time to listen. But have you ever thought that something as simple as a listening ear can be a cause of great healing and comfort to those who are really struggling? Offering time to listen can be a very precious gift indeed.
Imagine what difference you/we could make to our neighbourhood if every one of us made a concerted effort to show compassion to others over the next few weeks?
It would be quite amazing, don’t you think?
This is a copy of my article for the February 2018 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’