I am that person who starts conversations with strangers. As I stand in a long check out line, I feel the tension rise when out of my mouth pops a conversation starter. Walking down the street, I spontaneously compliment someone on their clothes, hair style, or smile. Those words of engagement are often uttered before I even recognize the precursor thought. My interactions are based upon the beliefs that we are all part of creation — that is is our right and responsibility to share joy with one another.
It wasn’t until last week that I really understood on a deep soul level the impact the lovingkindness one stranger to another. Not once, not twice, but three times I was the recipient of this kind of compassionate engagement. During those interactions, someone connected heart to heart to me. The words they uttered shifted my perception of myself in the moment as well as challenged the way that I normally see myself.
All too often, we look at another and draw conclusions about how and what they think about us. We interpret their expression positively and negatively based upon many nonverbal factors. When we are anchored in the moment, we are better able to identify accurately their reactions to us. But, mired in our own emotional upheaval, we may make assumptions and judgments. What they actually think about us may be vastly different than our interpretation. We feel a critical harshness that does not exist as we bump against illusions.
Our illusions are not the only ones that prevent us from fully engaging in what is real. We might correctly interpret the judgment of another and believe that the lens they use to view us provides an undistorted view of our authentic self. We fail to realize that their judgments and assumptions power the illusion of who they think we are. Instead of buying into the illusion they have spun, our challenge is to debunk the illusion by being our authentic self.
A co-presenter once asked me why we allow one bad review to negate the nine excellent ones. Maybe it is easier to believe the critical illusion than to accept the beauty of our own power. Maybe we are afraid to step into the light of our authentic self and accept the responsibility of being the change agent we are. If we accept the responsibility inherent in the beauty of our authentic being, we gain the ability to transform not only our self but also each person we touch.
That is exactly what happened to me. I connected to those three people heart to heart, authentic self to authentic self. Less worried about how I might perceive them, they reaching out with lovingkindness. Their compassion weaved through our soul to soul connection. Our authentic spirits twined together if only for a moment. Our spirits levitated as my compassion responded by dancing across the twining of our spirit. The power of compassion pulsed across our momentary connection.
Our joint compassion opened the gateway to the sacred-extraordinary. While our mingling did not bring about world peace — that we know — it transformed two hearts in that moment. Both of us shone with the glory of compassion. In the after moments, the iridescent sparkleys of compassion continued to dance through us crossing our connection, and bursting into the world.
Brief yet powerful connections with the intimate stranger change us. We may never know the depth of suffering in another — the origin of their agony — but that is not necessary. As compassion warriors we need not know the why, how, or even if of another’s suffering. We need only be willing emissaries of lovingkindness who seed compassion wherever we go while not being attached to what grows.
Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa.
Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action.