One of the staple questions asked in mindfulness sessions is a reflection question that pebble-in-the-watersuggests we visualise the question as if it were like pebble in a pond, dropping down and rippling out. It invites us to connect with what bubbles up from the storehouse of our deepest-or not so deepest thoughts-and what might we further connect with as it ripples out?

I’ve been reflecting on compassion in action, and how our compassion training has a certain trajectory, moving (rippling out and deepening) from self-compassion to other compassion, from what might be a heady sense of compassion to a more embodied experience. This is compassion in action, and compassion in action is how we might embody that action in the world, and it really is up to us to find our own authentic path here: we can by degrees begin to “trust emergence” (Kramer ).

What might further emerge?

This is where compassionate (pro) action might take place. For if we follow the possible trajectory here, from self to other, then might we complete this with a further stage, that of world compassion (and, further, compassion for the multiverse?)

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Thoughts drop into the body, body on ground,mindfulness-meditation-forest rest on the…ground? What is this earth and what is happening here? When we turn our gaze to the earth with a mindfulness of recognition we bring our attention to a dilemma: what have they done, or what are we doing to the earth?

Pema Chodron ( ) brings our attention to the Tibetan word shenpa, that sticky feeling that makes us want to escape facing up or turning towards some difficulties or discomforts. Perhaps the biggest difficulty, the most unsettling and ungrounding challenge-the greatest “full catastrophe” is climate change, that legacy that may leave future generations angry at us for centuries to come.

How might we face this, without anger or disgust or violent aggression, but with a loving kindness and compassion that builds and stands as an inner sustainable resource so we can engage proactively in this context?

Joanna Macy ( ) talks about a skillful, mindful approach to this situation, as does Stephanie Kaza in the excellent book Mindfully Green ( ). Her book outlines a path that encourages us to meet the challenging of climate change with not a resigned sense of angry depression or hopelessness, but a way to reconnect with a proactive, compassionate capacity to meet a truly global compassionate mess.

So, if I were to pose a question to myself, I might ask “what stands between me and a proactive, sustainable compassionate response to global catastrophe?

Watch that pebble drop, watch the ripples….

Graeme Armstong

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