Buddhist words such as “compassion” and “emptiness” don’t mean much until you start cultivating your innate ability simply to be there with pain with an open heart and the willingness not to instantly try to get ground under your feet.
For instance, if what you’re feeling is rage you usually assume that there are only two ways to relate to it. One is to blame others. Lay it all on somebody else, drive all blames into everyone else. The other alternative is to feel guilty about your rage and blame yourself.
Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.
This place, if you can touch it, will help you train yourself throughout your life to open further…rather than shut down more. You’ll find that as you begin to commit yourself to this practice, as you begin to have a sense of celebrating the parts of yourself that you found so impossible before, something will shift in you. Something will shift permanently in you. Your ancient habitual patterns will begin to soften and you’ll being to see the faces and hear the words of people who are talking to you.
While I feel tender and shaky enough right now, thank you very much, living with this tender pain - and all the attendant thoughts that go with it is hard enough. Will I have this pain forever? Will it get worse? Is it because I've had way too much fun in my life? Is it a side effect of the medication I'm taking?
Naturally, in sitting, in being with the pain, the pain becomes quite bearable. But before sitting, thinking about sitting brings about a similar interoceptive anticipation as might be expected, I suppose, from the expectation of torture.
Now naturally I'm trying to pay attention to my health, and evidently some additional weight exercises at the gym have had a beneficial effect. But also evidently, the thought is often worse than the reality.