I listened to a talk by James Doty on YouTube this morning about compassion and it got me thinking about the work I had been doing with addicts for the past three and a half years. Dr. Doty said something about a minute of compassion has the potential to transform a life both for the giver and the receiver. I know this to be true.
Most of the clients I worked with came from significant trauma. My bias is they most would not be addicts if they had not been traumatized. Addiction for them was self-medication to try and reduce the inner pain they felt.
In my work I listened to the stories of my clients with compassion. I gave them compassionate support and taught them how to have compassion for themselves and their feelings. I invited each person to be mindfully compassionate with the workings of their own mind. This allowed the clients to feel safe enough to begin to explore new ways of being with themselves and their past. This is what together we called “change from the inside out.”
Trauma remains in a person’s body and psyche until compassion finds its way deep into the painful vibrations from the past. When the caring, kindness, and compassion of others and self grow within, trauma is able to begin to release. This release is like a relaxing back into parts of self that had closed down or remained guarded. When parts of self are reclaimed then healing can take place. I saw this happen all the time with the people I worked with as each person began to look more alive and they began to speak about a new life for themselves.
I too was touched by being the giver of compassion both because it enriched my life and because I also became the receiver of their gratitude and caring. Helping a person has a way of continually giving back.
Until I saw the video I had not clearly labeled compassion as the key ingredient but of course it was. If compassion can help heal the most traumatized, imagine what it can do for you and I if we have compassion for the places in us that are stuck or in need of some kindness.