“12 Steps to a Compassionate Life” – Adult Religious Exploration

Date(s) - 04/20/2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm



Learning about compassion is one thing, but doing compassion is quite another. It starts with compassion toward yourself, and then, through deep awareness of the world around you, compassion for others.

Ultimately, you may even end up loving your enemies. Last fall, we began our journey to a compassionate life by studying Karen Armstrong’s book, 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life. Through discussion, lecture, and journaling, participants were able to gain a greater understanding of compassion, and identify ways in which to practice compassion toward themselves and others, in an ever-widening circle.

The three fall sessions covered Steps One through Six:

Step 1 – Learn About Compassion
Step 2 – Look at Your Own World
Step 3 – Compassion for Yourself
Step 4 – Empathy
Step 5 – Mindfulness
Step 6 – Action

At the end of each session, suggestions were given for deepening the learning. Some examples were:

  • For the next week, notice what you notice about compassion, in your life, your thoughts, your reading, and make notes in your journal.
  • Fear is fundamental to the reptilian brain. Be compassionate toward yourself and remember that fear is a human characteristic. It is something that links us with other people. If we cannot accept our own fears, we are likely to dismiss and even ridicule the fears of others. What do you fear?
  • Journal about how small acts of kindness can translate into a force for good in the world. Think of examples from your own life.
  • Try practicing mindfulness in different daily activities: mindful eating, mindful cleaning, mindful walking, mindful breathing, etc.

Anyone interested in further developing their sense of compassion will want    to attend the continuation of this class. Steps Seven through Twelve will be   covered in our sessions on Wednesdays, April 6, 13, and 20.

As we approach the beginning of the final three sessions in this series, it may be helpful to review your notes and revisit some of the exercises above. Please note that you do not need to have attended the first three sessions to participate in the final three sessions. However, it would be helpful to take some time to contemplate and journal about the learning suggestions listed above. It is not necessary to read the book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by Karen Armstrong, but highly recommended. Copies of the book are available through the church and public libraries. Please DO bring a journal or notebook, and something to write with. The final three sessions are as follows:

Session 4 on Wednesday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m.

Step 7 – How Little We Know
Step 8 – How Should We Speak to One Another?

Session 5 on Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Step 9 – Concern for Everybody

Step 10 – Knowledge

Session 6 on Wednesday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Step 11 – Recognition

Step 12 – Love Your Enemies



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