Compassion, Faith, Truth, Justice, Security, Abundance, Joy
Each of the seven virtues is related to health in powerful ways, and the combination of all seven can dramatically alter your progress on the path of health.
Today’s blog post is in honor of my father, Prestor Saillant, Sr who went to rest in the Lord yesterday.
In the last 9 months of his life my father taught me a very profound lesson about compassion. I was made brutally aware of the intense suffering that the elderly must endure at the hands of diseases like Parkinson’s. Suffering that is often compounded by our system of health care. But when, I questioned deeply why the elderly must suffer so, the “still small voice” inside responded, “He still has a lot of blessings”. His logical mind remained intact, even though, he had to deal with faulty input from his senses. And his memories of the past and present were largely spared. He emphasized to me that caring for my wife and children should always be my first priority, but he greatly appreciated the time we spent together, and he always yearned for home.
Through the entire time my father also emphasized the importance of compassion from caregivers. I noticed that he would always respond and gain strength when surrounded by compassionate people. On the other hand, those who were simply trying to get a job done or who became negative, sapped him of his energy and will. He said to one of his therapists several weeks ago that he could see through people’s smiles and could tell who really was smiling inside and who was only feigning a smile.
It is very challenging for a caregiver to develop the level of compassion and patience required for true healing, and I realized that I still have much to learn.
From this experience I am convinced that we should not underestimate the power of compassion! It is the gateway to health and healing. This is the framework for all other virtues, and above all it can be viewed as an essential characteristic of true consciousness. Consciousness expands when smaller entities share their contribution to awareness. Sharing of consciousness means becoming aware of another entities existential experience, and thus expanding awareness in the process. Thus through compassion a greater consciousness forms with transformational power. Compassion is an essential force that allows billions of separate entities to unite on both a microscopic (i.e. cellular level) and macroscopic ( i.e. human population) level, while still prioritizing the experience of each individual.
Compassion for Self
The Golden Rule springs from this virtue (i.e. love your neighbor as yourself). I hope you can see that for the Golden Rule to work you must have compassion for yourself! Thus health starts by having a deep compassion for yourself which can then be shared as compassion for others. Compassion for self means self-acceptance, self-appreciation, and self-importance and compassion for mind, body and spirit. Remember that you are an emperor in a kingdom with 37 trillion subjects (i.e. cells) and take time to shower them with compassion. This willingness to listen to your cells is a major step towards health. There are many disciplines that help to increase self-awareness such as prayer, stretching, yoga, meditation,and tai chi.
Technology can help increase self-awareness by providing reminders for a stretch, for a workout or for taking a deep breath. Technology also plays a role in tracking information that is important for health such as diet and symptom tracking.
Compassion for self means investing time and money in your health!
Compassion for Others
It is amazing that we often heal best by trying not to focus on our own pain! The Golden Rule helps us to realize that there are always people worse off than ourselves. It reminds us that although we need to take out time for ourselves, a balanced amount of time should be spent helping others. The important emphasis here is on balance. If you spend more time helping others than taking care of your own health you will likely end up sick and then not be able to help anyone. If you spend more time taking care of yourself then helping others then you may also end up getting sicker by virtue of the golden equation (i.e. consider the hypochondriac). You will end up getting stressed out about your health and the stress alone will make you sick.
Technology plays a huge role in keeping us informed of outreach efforts geared towards helping others. It can also be used to increase awareness of those whose needs are not being met.
Compassion for others means investing time and money in the health of others.
As my father stated, “care givers should first truly place themselves in the shoes of the person they are trying to help before approaching to help”. For healing to take place we need to remind ourselves to surround ourselves with compassion, so that it is our first interface to others.
Compassion and Sacrifice
True compassion entails a measure of sacrifice and this is why the color associated with it is red. Red is the color of blood when it comes into contact with oxygen. It is understood by all religions that individual sacrifice for the betterment of others is the highest human calling. The color red is a reminder that we should be ready to give our all in the battle for a more compassionate future.