Every day when we move through our life we are practicing empathy. Watching at an intersection to see who goes or who gives way, maybe feeling in a supermarket queue someone’s urgency to go first, or simply sitting with a friend. The skill of tuning in to what other’s needs are is the practice of empathy.
Empathy can be described as the capacity to receive and understand emotional states or the ability to understand things from some one else’s viewpoint.When we practice empathy we can be with someone and embody the state they are in. It is almost as if we receive and feel what is being felt by those we are in touch with. We can experience empathy at work, at home or on the street with strangers.
Yoga is the practice of connection, the opposite of connection is ego. When we can’t see someone else’s point of view what we do is step into separation. We step into our camps and take our sides. We disagree, criticize or scrutinize the actions of others. We separate others from us and see them as against us, as the other. When we are like this it saves us from feeling and helps us to justify our positions.
How do you think the world would be if we were empathic to all the people around us? If instead of taking sides we were all sides? If instead of judging and gossiping we felt for the other person? How would your life be and the life of your co-workers, friends, colleagues and family if for one moment we all stopped looking for who was right but really stepped inside the others shoes and became one with how it must be for them?
Practice for today: Reserving your judgment and taking a broader view with your emotions is a way to connect to all of the human race. Empathy is the practice of seeing beyond your borders into another’s emotions. Practicing empathy is a way to set your free.