The word “compassion” comes from the Latin word compati, which means “to suffer with”. Probably the best-known definition is that of the Dalai Lama who defined compassion as “a sensitivity to the suffering of self and others, with a deep commitment to try to relieve it.
In other words, sensitive attention-awareness plus motivation. In the Buddhist model true compassion arises from insight into the illusory nature of a separate self and the grasping to maintain boundaries – from what is called an awakened mind.
Feeling cared for, accepted and having a sense of belonging and affiliation with others is fundamental to our well-being. Unfortunately, not everyone was raised in such an environment.
Compassion-based therapy was developed to help those who have problems, especially around shame and self-criticism. Most people can logically understand the importance of caring. To feel it, experientially, requires the ability to access that give rise to feelings of safety and love.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel the caring presence of another. Compassion-focused, mindfulness-based therapy creates a safe container to explore the protective strategies that seal off the self from feelings of togetherness and connectedness.