Evolving empathy and Compassion with Visualisation
Humans share a beautiful and engaging connection with one and other.
Our Hearts connect us within an electrical field and our Brains erupt with mirror neurons when we are exposed to the trauma, suffering or even happiness of another human. We naturally have an insight into the minds of one another. This insight or connection we share, is intuitive, it is natural for us to facilitate an emotional reaction in response to others emotions. This simply, is Empathy.
Empathy, is the seed that can grow into a tree of compassion. Compassion roots us to our source, and allows us to establish a connection with one and other and the universe we co-exist in. In my experience, Its all about a submission to intuition, honest Compassion is ignited by the freedom of our empathy from the restraints of conceptual judgement. Once we forget what we think we know about others, the space we create will be filled with an intuitive feeling of connection.
I can only subjectively describe my experience of compassion, the word has no definition it is just a symbol which represents a feeling or experience. For me it feels like your just so close to and united with everything and everyone, that you become so sensitive to causing suffering with your actions, that it becomes unnatural and counter-intuitive to do so.
Our conceptual prejudices, and emotional polarities can be HUGELY restrictive in sympathising and experiencing Empathy and Compassion. I used to have issues feeling love towards certain types of people, and individuals. This only had a negative effect on me. Our prejudices are conditioned into us by our experience of social environments, and other peoples behaviour. Unfortunately generally conceptualise and categorise others into groups, so one bad experience can pollute your perception of a whole group of people. This is detrimental to our own well being, and our connection with one and other.
However this site, is full of people that are against, judgement, discrimination and prejudice. In my own experience maturing empathic feelings and cultivating compassion can combat these negative qualities. The following techniques have helped me to do so.
Now, I’ve begun using creative visualisation to help cultivate the feeling/experience often described as compassion. These techniques have the added beneficiaries of enhanced focus, cognition and visual creativity.
Visualisation is an INCREDIBLY powerful tool of the mind. Einstein used visualisation to create his theory of relativity, by visualising himself moving at the speed of light. Nichola Tesla used it to design his Inventions, he create a visual framework of an idea, which in physical reality would be a fully functional invention. Joshua Foer won the memory championships in America and broke the record of remembering the order of a deck of cards in the shortest time EVER using visualisation techniques to increase his memory.
There is two different types of Visualisation patterns I use; the first is largely directed towards experiencing empathy, the second more orientated towards compassion.
The first technique is an organised day dream, It is well known our imagination has impressions on our emotions, which is the reason this technique is so effective.
I would sit and visualise an individual, or a person that would represent a group and I would imagine them being attacked. I’d use my imagination to put them in a helpless position. I have been in a helpless position before, its horrible. I would visualise the hypothetical person being subjected to such suffering I would consciously FEEL despair, and horror. As soon as I really FELT the suffering of the fictitious person in my imagination I would step in and save them. This would literally create a hugely uplifting feeling. I’d offer my hand to them, pull them up, and heal them.
Sounds crazy, but it works a treat. It also really allows you to become lost in your visual imagination. Its real fun being able to create your own worlds, and even better that when proficiently utilised it can actualise a change in your consciousness. It is a very strange practice but has allowed me to uplift some of my prejudices and direct empathetic feelings towards people I previously didn’t connect with. Our prejudices are instilled into us from society, no one is sheltered from the dispositions of there social environment, However we all have the capacity to transcend them!
The second technique is a lot more simple and conventional, and can be an effective follow up to the first practice.
Once I have created the feeling of compassion with an organised daydream, I would visualise the feeling, as a green light in my chest. I would then simply maintain this visualisation, therefore maintaining this feeling for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes, I would visualise others with the green light in their chest, and I would radiate and connect with them. This is especially beneficial if the faces of the people you connect with, are faces you associate with negative emotions, due to prejudices or negative past experiences.
These are just a few visualisation frameworks I use as an alternative to Meditation solely focused on breathing. They can be really helpful and have profound effects.
I want to finish this post by asking what techniques other people have used to cultivate the feeling of compassion and strengthen there empathic connection with others and the world?
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@jamescarson, beautifully written man, Visualization really is a tremendously untapped resource in this regard and can really help you to strengthen your emotional well being, as well as our natural empathetic awareness and aptitude. I curious, when did you start doing this and how has it affected your life since then?
Thanks man, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Well, I first started visualising probably a little over a year ago, maybe a year and a half. Like anyone I had an already active visual imagination, but It was a documentary I watched that inspired me to consciously organise the way I used it. Bruce Lee, in an old clip, talks about how he used visualisation to calm his mind. He explained that when a negative thought or feeling would press upon him, he would imagine writing it down on a piece of paper and throwing it into a burning fire freeing his mind from the weight.
I first used this particular visualisation to combat a fear of flying on aeroplanes. It then became a regular exercise when feeling stressed. I enjoyed being creative with the way I would destroy the thought, it’d be from alien lasers to me shooting fireballs at them. I then applied it to meditation, visualising colours and energy etc. Like breathing in white light then breathing out dark smoke to symbolise negative thoughts/feelings and the green locus of energy in my chest.
It’s only been more recently, in the last few months I’ve really expanded and specialised my personal use of visualisation. I’ve been researching cognitive functions and there relationship to emotional regulation, which resulted in attempts to expand my own cognitive processes into facilitating different emotional states as well as just regulating impulsive emotional reactions. It also helps you organise your emotional attachments to memories, by being able to re-interpret them in a controlled emotional state, therefore not being overwhelmed by the feelings you associate with the memory.
Honestly visualisation is a great tool for the person who pursues inner change and outer change. I cannot state my views on it in any way better than you have put it, it is a tremendously untapped resource!
yes, kind of, as it’s become second nature to me now. I find that I will always find bliss or bliss will find me when I go to nature, be it hiking up a mountain, skipping in the rain, gazing at the moon and stars or commit to allowing myself to feel the full extent of a breeze. bliss is literally all around us, we just forget to tune ourselves to it every once in a while. and it is through this I grow.
I also find great happiness in helping others in matters of emotion and soul as it allows me to grow in both those departments myself, bolstering my emotional awareness and teaching me to speak not from the brain but from the soul, which is where wisdom lies
Yeah man I totally agree, its all about tuning in to what’s available!
I can completely resonate with the happiness and valuable experience learned through sharing your thoughts with others. Communication can be a catalyst for change, inspiration and a revolution in the mind. Therefore maintaining a humble and open attitude towards others can have delightful impacts on peoples lives and your own!