I was the girl who wanted to be great at everything—without practice. I was great at nothing. NO. NATURAL. TALENT. Yet, because I had to practice a lot at everything, I learned that practice meant I was learning something new every time.

As a spiritual teacher, I find this to be the coolest news I get to deliver. The goal of unrelenting, unending earthly processes is not to torture you, but to awaken you to this notion.

The chores we perform 20,000 times in a lifetime were never meant to be the same experience even once. They were never meant as “chores” either. These rote tasks are to teach us every time—new wisdom is unearthed.

We learn more as we do more, and when we master a practice, we unlock new dimensions. The whole experience is a lot like the Super Mario Brothers games.

There is a divine order and infinite purpose in everything you do. In every step you take, the one you’re taking now is the only one that matters. This design is divinely benevolent because it frees us from the “future” and guarantees readiness for the future at the same time.

When we deny ourselves practice, when we by-pass the lessons our way to the top, spiritual collapse is likely. I have learned to be grateful for the practice and have accepted that I’ll be ready when I’m ready.

An example might be helpful for this discussion.

You’ve heard the term “bleeding-heart” before, yes? I personally think it describes the suffering of an empath—someone who aligns with the suffering of others easily.

We do this until the very moment we realize that by empathizing with someone who is suffering, we feed that person’s suffering in a subtle, unhealthy way.

Empathy is very tricky. It’s like giving a child that is suffering a temper tantrum a hug or candy to stop the tantrum. The small child learns that temper fits are horrible, but at least there’s a hug in it for them.

Pretty soon, we realize that we are good at giving unhappy people hugs. We are good at suffering with people. Next thing you know, tantrums and hugs are normal. We can create co-dependence when begin practicing empathy.

Many times the solutions remain elusive because, instead of allowing the tantrum to unravel and restore the mind/body state, we aborted the natural process with a hug. After a storm, there is natural renewal. Instead, we will all live to get the hug, even if it means living completely out of balance to do so. We don’t learn to solve or talk about our problems.

As we continue to practice empathy we learn to see solutions for others (and ourselves), yet often many won’t use the solutions because we’ve formed relationships where suffering defines our relationships. The hug and caring because of the suffering become more important than practicing solutions.

From the practice and mastery of empathy, we see the imbalance in the posture and a new dimension opens.

Compassion. Compassion says, “I understand your suffering (empathy), I know you can get up (reflecting that this is not who they are).” These two components must be delivered in equal parts.

A compassionate response allow the process to unfold in an overall more empowering way for both parties. Compassion never agrees with the suffering, but understands that we all suffer at times.

Compassion is completely neutral, and yes, there can be hugging, too! The trick is that we must believe there are solutions, which is why we had to learn empathy first. Empathy teaches that there are always answers, and the practice teaches us to see them. We must learn this before we can tell someone to get up when they are suffering.

Okay, Surrender Dorothy, submit to your practice! Next week we delve into the art of practice and higher postures! Have a nice weekend!

Namaste,

Dana