Sometimes we are ourselves. We are kind, patient, humble, present–available to our best human qualities. A woman drops a bag and we stop to help gather the groceries. A coworker finds out his son has won a scholarship and we genuinely share his pride and joy. A neighbor tells a racist joke and we confront them with integrity. A conversation turns to politics and we speak truthfully without demeaning those who hold different opinions. Generosity, empathy, courage, self-discipline, and other positive qualities flow easily toward others and ourselves.
And then some days we are not ourselves. We are disconnected, scattered, anxious, and reactive. We live on the brittle surface or our lives, easily battered about by emotions. We explode into fits of rage at our children. We simmer with jealousy at a co-worker’s success. We write angry insults online to people who hold opposing political views. And at night we lie in bed filled with shame, self-loathing, judgement and despair.
How is it possible for any of us, in any genuine way, to function as our best selves? How can we live as generous, kind, and loving people? How can we keep from being reactive at times when our inner world is so full of judgement, shame, and bitterness? How is it possible to work with others in our community when we have real and valid reasons to be afraid, angry, or repulsed by various people we encounter?
Most of us have given up on these questions. We are doing the best that we can. We avoid difficult conversations. We “unfriend” those who anger us online. We hide our disgust from friends and coworkers. We repress, deflect, numb or medicate our most dangerous feelings and then try to be civil. But do repression and avoidance really work?
“Practicing Compassion” is a one day experiential retreat for anyone who feels tired and overwhelmed. It will offer practical training to help you deepen your capacity to respond to difficult people, divisive issues, and destructive emotions. Retreat participants will cultivate skills for practicing self-compassion and learn how to identify and transform difficult emotions. Together, we will learn to increase our own capacity to heal suffering in ourselves, others, and the world.
The event will be led by author and popular retreat leader Mark Yaconelli, based on his work as co-founder of the Center for Engaged Compassion. Part of the Finding Our Way Conference, the day will include contemplative exercises, presentations, and group discussions focused on the inner work of compassionate living. The retreat will also feature a morning conversation with author Anne Lamott on her own struggle to live as a compassionate person. Learn more at www.findingourwayashland.com