4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

compassion

Compassion…Good for Your Health, Good for the Planet

The word compassion has a Latin origin meaning “to suffer with”. Several dictionaries offer variations of the definition of compassion as “the act of feeling pity for the suffering of others”. I was surprised to read that the word suffering is attached so commonly to compassion—from my perspective, compassion is reaching out to others in a caring, kind, and generous manner. Compassion is a way of being that brings balance to the world and joy to those giving and receiving the sentiment.

Compassion opens the way for acceptance, tolerance, and forgiveness; I suppose from that perspective, there is an element of “feeling pity for one’s suffering”, even if that “suffering” is experienced personally. Nonetheless, cultivating compassion as a readily available emotion is a practiced skill — the more often compassion is evoked, the more familiar that emotion becomes and the more readily it is accessible to you as a response. When we are able to share a compassionate response with ourselves and others, we spread joy and bring balance. Personal health benefits are noted as well: decreased inflammatory markers, quieter brain activity, lowered pressure in the blood vessels, and an enhanced immune system. That makes sense, doesn’t it?  Responding with kindness, caring, and generosity is healing and soothing emotionally and physically.

These two websites offer more information about the practice and benefits of compassion:

Compassion Rx

Self Compassion

Can Meditation Change Your Brain?

Compassion and empathy become predominant personality traits with the practice of routine quieting of our busy brains. Exciting neuroscience in this recently released article.

Bittersweet

Just a moment of bittersweet awareness:

We had a marvelous day in San Francisco; beginning with a long run in the morning through Chinatown, up to Coyt Tower, and ending at Pier 1, at the most fabulous organic farmer’s market on the planet… and a light and healthful breakfast. Later in the morning we were mesmerized by the rich history of art and culture displayed at the Asian Art Museum…and savored a light, healthful and delicious noodle bowl lunch there. The afternoon found us at the Strybing Arboretum, where we walked for hours among blooming flowers, singing birds, and luscious gardens.

From the bus ride back to 5th and Market, walking through Union Square, I saw a young woman, sitting on the street corner, with a dog in her lap, reading from a worn book, a couple of bags pulled tightly to her sides, and a sign that said “Hungry, cold, and alone, please help”; she caught my eye, perhaps because of the book, or maybe the dog…

We hurried off to the dinner reservation at a fabulous restaurant that we have enjoyed several times, and savored a divine meal, reveling in the company, delighting in the flavors, celebrating time together in a romantic weekend. Food was left over. We were full. I had it packed up, with the young woman on the corner in mind. She was still there as we went back.

I squatted down next to her and she looked up from her book.  Her blue eyes regarded me cautiously but I could see the warmth there. How heartbreaking. Her dog tentatively wagged it’s tail.  I shared with her that in the bag were yummy, healthy leftovers for her and asked if she was hungry. Of course she was. I asked her if she smoked cigarettes, and she said no she did not, but she could bum one for me if I wanted.  Clarifying my intention, I told her that I would like to help her and was relieved that she would not be spending money on cigarettes… she explained that she gets a room several blocks away, when she collects enough money, where she does not need ID, because she does not have ID, and where they will allow her dog. Reaching into my purse, but holding her eyes, I choked up, and she choked up, and we shared for just a brief moment, a sisterhood and a thread of connectedness. I felt sad, so sad for her plight, but so grateful for the moment she and I shared and for my ability to help her — briefly.

As Hospital Administrator, I have witnessed firsthand Robin’s commitment to her clients …

“As Hospital Administrator, I have witnessed firsthand Robin’s commitment to her clients as well as the health and wellbeing of everyone on our staff. In Robin’s role as the Cardiac Rehabilitation Manager, she has created a very efficient Cardiac Rehab Department, which is important to me as an Administrator. Our patients—Robin’s clients—have experienced Robin’s passion, drive, compassion and immense caring for their health and wellbeing.”
—Katherine A. Medeiros, President and CEO

The best thing I did when I discovered I had Type 2 Diabetes was to call Robin Mallery. She coached me to craft a plan to turn this condition around, and the encouragement to believe that I can.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am managing well, using Robin’s program of small steps, achievable goals, and positive reinforcement.  She’s not only a fountain of knowledge and experience, but a loving teacher and motivator.  For the first time in years, I don’t feel helpless about eating and weight gain.  Thank you, Robin!

—GC, Austin

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