I was thinking about the idea of what the compassionate witness really means. This is a place many of us try to attain – this emotional balance we strive for after hearing about one tragedy after another, whether in the media or as it regards a friend, family member or someone in the community.
There is a delicate balance regarding the compassionate witness that can only be found in the heart. So, it’s heart-centered and becomes heart-intelligent. I think it means we need to “give a care” without over-identifying with the person or situation. It is not about over caring. It’s a different type of balance, fostered by a different type of awareness. To strike that balance becomes regenerative, because you can then move through situations more gracefully. Care is a powerful thing. Over care only saps you of vital energy, and sometimes even becomes self-indulgent and drops to angst and over-responsibility.
From The Institute of HeartMath, comes an interesting and helpful technique. If you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of emotion you can’t separate yourself from, you can become the compassionate witness using this exercise. It’s called Heart Focus and the way to do the technique / exercise is to:
Shift your attention to your heart. You can place your hand there if you wish for more focus, and then breathe deeply as if your breath is actually coming from your heart.
Try to feel a positive heart-based emotion like gratitude or love for someone or something, until you have a general sense of well-being. If it’s a someone, you can picture them as best you can within your heart area.
Take this feeling of well-being and radiate compassion and care out to the world. You can direct it toward the healing of the planet, a specific location or hot-spot in the world or toward a loved one. Do this until you disassociate yourself from the initial anxious, sad, overly concerned emotion you were feeling so you can become a compassionate witness. This in itself is a form of service to yourself, and toward whomever or wherever you send this heart-based feeling.