5 min Compassion Meditation
One of the easiest ways to reduce stress at work is to lead with compassion. Investing in your people helps set them on a path to success. By supporting their growth, you help clear their path of obstacles — whether that means redefining processes that bottleneck production or simply by making it easy to ask for a day off. Let’s be clear on what compassion really means and how we can embody this skillset.
Compassion vs. Empathy
Compassion and empathy are often mistakenly used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Empathy is the ability to relate to another person’s pain as if it’s your own. Like sympathy, empathy is a feeling state. For example, last December, my dad had a major heart attack. Now, when I hear someone struggling because their family member had a heart attack, I can feel their pain. It’s a passive feeling that is grounded in emotion but isn’t actually an action.
On the other hand, compassion allows us to put empathy to work and take action to help minimize the pain of the other person. Compassion recognizes others’ suffering and takes actions to help, using tangible expressions of care directed at those who are suffering.
Compassion is not a gift you are born with, it’s a learned skill. Our brains have an incredible level of neuroplasticity, enabling you to develop most any skill and get stronger and more prominently-displayed, over time. Listen to this 5 min compassion meditation, inspired by Harvard Business Review. This meditation talks you through a practice that embodies compassion, in action, right away.
If you prefer no audio, you can follow the steps below:
5-min Compassion Meditation (On Your Own)
- Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Sit comfortably, relax, and focus your attention on your breath to let your mind settle.
- When you have centered yourself, recall a person dear to you, someone who is experiencing challenges.
- Be clearly aware of the challenges and how it must feel for the person experiencing them.
- With each exhale, imagine you breathe out everything this person needs: warmth, strength, and compassion. Breathe out everything that is positive and imagine it entering the other person.
- While you continue breathing compassion on each exhale, with each inhale, imagine removing all suffering, pain, regret, and hurt from the person — but without you taking it on. Imagine that you’re simply removing their pain.
- When you’re ready, let go of the person and return your attention to your breath.
- When you’re ready, let go of the practice and notice how you feel.
Office Yoga offers virtual meditation, desk yoga, and office yoga flow classes. Join us in the community for daily practices here!