Listening to an episode of On Being on NPR this morning, I was inspired and moved by Krista Tippett’s guests, two poets – one a Muslim man, Interfaith Visionary Eboo Patel, and the other, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who is also a biracial woman. Read More “Week 649:Orienting to Empathy”
I just watched a Netflix video of Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia. I always enjoy Trevor’s humor, as it touches into cultural and racial issues that may be hard to talk about in other contexts. In this particular comedy routine, he spends a good bit of time around how he feels when people call him the “N” word. Apparently, in his mother’s language, this particular word, or the sound of it, means “to give”, so it can bring a warm feeling to him when people shout it at him.
I just read something on Facebook that brought to mind the terrible power of enactment. I won’t relate it here, as it was a disturbing report in the news about someone being attacked. For me, this kind of event is a reminder of the deep need we all have to teach ourselves to bring awareness to what we do or want to do. Read More “Week 639: Awareness Instead of Enactment”
I often write about the importance of kindness. An essential companion to that practice is cultivating empathy. A definition of empathy found on google says: “Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. … “ I would add to this definition, “…and the ability to imagine what any other living being might be thinking or feeling…”
Because I have focused on cultivating a deepened awareness of heart perception in recent years, on the quality of intelligence that naturally arises when orienting to the heart brain, I find that it hurts my heart when I notice the increasing lack of expressions of empathy in public and social spheres of my American culture. And, this lack of empathy is not only focused on a wide array of our human kin. It also applies to many, if not most, of our other earth-kin. What often saddens me is how a lack of empathy leads to a lack of kindness, as well.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay more attention to your relationship with empathy. One way to do this is to ask your heart brain, rather than your head brain, what someone else might be feeling or experiencing. I find that heart intelligence has a different take on, or brings different qualities to, most experiences. In this week’s practice, notice what happens if you take the time to ask your heart what it has to say about someone else’s experience.