By Jenny Florence
What exactly do I mean by ‘Spiritual Empathy?’
Firstly, I would like to create a definition of the word Spiritual within this context. If I remove any and all preconceptions and religious associations or affiliations from the word spiritual, and view it in its purest form; ‘Spirituality is an attunement with Life itself.’
I am deeply respectful of anyone’s individual beliefs however, when I refer to ‘Spiritual Empathy,’ I am referring to spirituality as a way of life, something that we are, as much a something that we either say or indeed do, and I am talking about empathy as a vehicle, or indeed the means, to be able to achieve this high level of deep attunement in all aspects of our daily lives.
‘Empathy is the very fabric of relatedness and therefore the very fabric of our ability to live in communication with life itself.’
True empathy is a state of being. When we live empathically, we can relate with our full experience of life at a level of mindful and conscious awareness. Awareness of ourselves, awareness of others, and awareness of a greater universal intelligence of which we are an integral and dynamic part.
If our task as adults is to reach a state of healthy autonomy with an ownership and an awareness of the power of both our thoughts and our subsequent choices and actions, then we will need to deepen and develop our self-awareness. ‘We will need to learn to listen to ourselves.’
When I talk about empathy I do not simply view it as a listening skill and something that we can offer to others. If we wish to live and to navigate our lives from a position of thriving self-responsibility, then first and foremost we will need to develop a thriving relationship with ourselves. ‘A relationship of depth and of meaning.’
We are becoming increasingly aware of the power and influence of our extraordinary mind in co-creating our journey throughout our lives and there are numerous books and numerous scientific studies that are connecting both the science and the spirituality of energy, and indeed our human capacity for conscious choice and influence within this sphere.
And yet in my experience, the area of our lives in which most people struggle, is connected to emotion. When we are stressed, or highly emotionally charged, our emotions color our perceptions and this in turn colors our thinking and therefore our subsequent choices and decisions.
It has been my privilege to walk alongside literally hundreds of people as they have journeyed from the chaos of living from an emotionally reactive position, to a place of integrated living where their emotions fuel and feed their capacity to navigate their lives from a position of conscious and a reflective choice. ‘And the key to creating this level of change is empathy.’
What I have come to term ‘Spiritual Empathy’ is not simply a state of mind, but a state of being. A way of living in which our mind unites in relationship with our emotions in an equal partnership.
‘When we listen to our lives through our logical thinking, we are listening to life through the intelligence of our mind. When we listen to our lives through our emotions, we are listening to life through the intelligence of our heart. We need both, not one at the expense of the other, and empathy sits at the very core of our ability to engage with life from both our heart, as well as our mind.’
Wisdom is the creative outcome of knowledge and experience integrating and joining together. And it is our emotional experience combined with the knowledge of our mind that enables this to happen. ‘In our adult lives, the meeting of our mind and our emotions is one of the most influential relationships we will ever have.’ The health of any flourishing relationship will to a very great extent to be dependent upon its communication. When this partnership is fluent in conversation, fluent in listening, fluent in reflection, and fluent in responsiveness, this will enable us to navigate our lives from a position of conscious choice and mindful compassion.
Pure empathy… ‘Spiritual empathy’… is a divine state of being… a divine state of relatedness. Fluid and yet strong and resilient, it is a state of both giving and receiving with conscious awareness; a conscious exchange that embraces an openness and an availability that is in turn contained and held within the boundaries of mindful discernment.
‘Autonomy doesn’t mean separateness from the world. It means relatedness with the world.’
When I am explaining what I mean by ‘Spiritual Empathy’ I speak of it’s 7 core principles.
1. The Space Within. We create an internal space of stillness. Meditation is without doubt one of our most valuable tools in the development of this internal space of receptivity.
2. To Receive. We develop our ability to receive our full experience of what it is to be alive and fully present.
3. To Reflect. We deepen and strengthen our objective capacity for reflective thought.
4. Respect. We learn to walk gently through life, treating ourselves, others and life itself with respect.
5. Responsiveness.We heighten our awareness of our capacity for conscious choice and we develop our ability to live through mindful and considered action, actions that are truly responsive.
6. Resolution. Through our increasing in-sight and self-awareness we seek resolution of any past challenging experiences and we strive to live in the present with an awareness of the future that we ourselves are creating.
7. Relationship. And lastly, we understand that as human beings we are fully relational and that when we embrace our daily living and our capacity for conscious intention through the principles of spiritual empathy, ‘rather than dreaming of having more, we dream of being more.’
When we live through these seven principles we open ourselves to the possibility of experiencing life with the openness and awe of a child, walking hand in hand with an adult whose perspective stems from the wisdom of a life being lived.
Thank you for reading this. We each carry the source of potential change within ourselves.