The Natural Miracle of Compassion
Compassion arises naturally when we relax. As you are reading this now, take a nice long inhale, and exhaling, let go of some held tension in your body. Everyone can do that. It’s completely natural. The miracle is this: After Middleway Method students and clients spend some time practicing self-relaxation, and they’ve breathed this relaxing breath again and again, they all begin to deeply appreciate the benefit of it, and their hearts begin to grow so warm and generous that eventually, without fail, everyone of them becomes inspired to live a life of service to others. There is no exception to this wonderful phenomena: when people deeply relax, the next step, naturally, is for compassion to be born in their hearts. All of us are this way. When one person does something truly kind and supportive for us, and we feel the relaxing breath that arises in us because of their kindness and support, then as soon as we are feeling better, as soon as we are feeling relaxed, we immediately and naturally feel inspired to give the gift of that support and relaxation to others.
When I first started teaching massage therapy, I used to wonder, “How do I teach compassion? I feel this very strong care and inspiration in my heart, and I know that I cannot do anything with my life but serve others, because doing anything else wouldn’t feel right, but how do I inspire that same strong motivation in my students?” I used to think that my teachers must have had some special magic power that they could inspire such a profound and unyielding compassion in me, but as I learned how to effectively teach relaxation, I noticed that compassion arises naturally from it. Phew! I don’t need to have magic powers. The miracle of compassion arises naturally in everyone who feels safe and supported. All I have to do is keep doing my work, and my students and clients all become more and more inspired to spend their time caring for others. Breathe and relax, breathe and relax, and the compassion arises, like seeds in rain and sun.
Over the years, I have noticed that people who choose to study the Middleway Method are already motivated by their own natural compassion. It’s what brings them to study in the first place. My students come to me with a story that often goes something like this: “I have always been the person who takes care of everyone else in my family. I’m always giving them massages, and they keep saying that I should become a professional massage therapist, so here I am!” Oftentimes, these caring people are a little bit exhausted, overextended by their sense of obligation to others. They want to find a way to express their care without tiring themselves out, and also earn a living doing something that they love. The interesting thing is that just as often as that is the case, it is also the case that the first and most important lesson that these dear souls have to learn is how to care for themselves. Sound familiar? Of course it does. The truth is that it is easy for me to predict that you are one of those caring people, because it has been my observation that ultimately everyone is one of those caring people.
As I said before, without fail, when one of my students or clients finally sinks deeply into their own relaxation and self-care, then compassion naturally arises in their hearts. And, it appears to me that almost everyone is overextended, exhausted from trying so hard to do good in this world. We often criticize ourselves and others for striving too hard for material gain, but underneath the so-called superficial exterior of the search for material wealth is a deep personal search for self-worth. It appears to me that all human beings are motivated in this way, and all human beings ultimately find that self-worth through doing service work for others. Our true relaxing breath, our true relief, is the relief from our fruitless and tiring striving when we find work that clearly and deeply benefits others. Ahh, says the soul, now I am finally doing what I was put here to do! Knowing that this natural compassion lives in the hearts of each and every person that I touch, I feel great joy and personal fulfillment doing my work, as I lay my hands gently on that part of them that cares, and direct that caring inward, toward their own heart.
“Love heals” is a tired axiom, but only because it is true. What I find interesting is that the first step is always to learn to love and care for oneself. As an ascetic monk, the Buddha practiced severe self-denial, to the point of detriment to his body and his mind. Then, after a kind person offered him some rice and some milk, the starving Buddha regained his health, and compassion for others was naturally born in his heart. It was then that he taught the Middle Way, the way of kindness toward oneself and others. Middleway Method Massage Therapists are those who offer the rice and milk, those who recognize others’ need for support, and giving that support, make it possible for ever more compassion to arise naturally in the world.