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MeditationCompassion During Conflict

Compassion During Conflict

When we can feel empathy and compassion toward ourselves it makes it possible for us to have the same towards others — especially during conflict.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

Hello there, it's Rosie, meditation and mindfulness teacher at Headspace. How often do we cultivate empathy and compassion toward ourselves? When I first started learning about mindfulness, I remember being overwhelmed by guilt when getting angry. Anytime I'd get into an argument or someone would do something to upset me, I felt like all of my mindfulness efforts were futile. Meditation helped me feel what lay beneath whatever big emotion I was feeling and what the source of my anger was. Most of the time I felt that my anger didn't have a space to go and that would often cause a great deal of tension. Growing up, my family always resolved conflict by arguing loudly, a competition over who was louder, the one that was the loudest won. As I got older and began the unraveling of my childhood framework, I learned that just because you're loud doesn't mean you're right. I love the practice of empathy and compassion but not in the way that you would think. Sure, giving empathy and compassion to others is a great practice. But what about having empathy and compassion for yourself? How can we acknowledge our pain and have a desire for our suffering to end and at the same time have the same for others during a time of difficulty? This is a practice you can do when you are in conflict and you want to cultivate empathy and compassion. First, let's make a distinction between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Compassion in the world of mindfulness means that you acknowledge someone's suffering and have a desire for their suffering to end. The more we become aware of these two, we can begin to define the importance of having both for yourself. Let's begin. Center yourself. Either find a comfortable seat or you can stand. Take this next moment to become aware of your breath. Observe your body breathing. If it's comfortable, you can even place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. When you think about conflict, where does your mind go? What does your body feel? Bring your attention to the center of your chest and take a deep breath. Let your body settle in. As you hold your body, take a moment to acknowledge where you feel your anger, sadness, or whatever feeling has risen. Bring your attention to the center of your stomach and take a deep breath, allowing space for your body to rest. Notice the space around you as you scan your entire space from front to back, side to side. Bring your attention back to the center of your chest. Release any tension in your shoulders, your throat, and the muscles of your face. There is enough space around you for all of your feelings. Everything that you feel has a space and is welcomed. You can keep your hands on your body or lower them at any point that...


Duration7 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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