A Lesson In Empathy

lesson in empathy

By Lissa Rankin, MD

Guest writer for Wake Up World

The woman in front of you in the grocery store line just lost her mother after a nine year battle with cancer.

Your boss just found out his wife is having an affair.

The other mother you ran into in the schoolyard just found out her daughter has a brain tumor.

The Starbucks barista who has been schlepping espresso to fund her dream just found out the book she spent five years writing got rejected by yet another publisher.

The young boy acting out in the restaurant just found out Daddy is going to war.

The woman who cut you off in traffic just filed for divorce from her abusive husband.

The waiter who forgot to bring you extra salad dressing just lost his son in a car accident.

As Rev. John Watson said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.

Life Is Brutal

I was dancing at Sweat Your Prayers in Sausalito, and our dance leader said, “Every man in this room is holding something heavy on his heart right now — some loss, some grief, some disappointment, some wound.” He invited the men to step into the center of the room while the women formed a circle around the men. He then played beautiful soulful music and invited the men to dance their grief.   If they felt they needed support, he invited them to hold their hands in a circle over their hearts, which would be an invitation to the women in the room. If a woman saw a man with his hands over his heart, she was to silently rest her forehead on his back and breathe three breaths of love and support into his heart.

Tears streamed down the face of almost every man in the circle as they danced and women they didn’t know supported them in silence.

After the men danced, the women were invited into the center of the circle and the men encircled the woman as we danced our own loss and the men breathed into our hearts.

I was so moved by the experience I could barely breathe by the time it was done. The soul connection that arose between the men and women on the dance floor was palpable. We were all hugging and leaning on one another by the time Sweat Your Prayers ended. Nobody felt alone anymore. It was a great reminder that everyone is grieving about something right this second.

Everyone You Meet Is Fighting A Hard Battle

Rachel Naomi Remen shared this video, produced by the Cleveland Clinic, about what’s going on in the minds and hearts of people in a hospital. As I sat next to Rachel at her kitchen table, she asked me to watch it. Then she asked me to watch it again. Then a third time. I wept through all three viewings and was a total wreck after the third time.

Please watch this video and share it with everyone you know. This video about empathy isn’t just about hospitals. It’s about everyday life. This is medicine for the soul right here. Henry David Thoreau said, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

Please take four minutes and open your heart. When you do, you change the world.

Open Your Heart Today

Pay attention to the people you meet today. Consider that every single one of them is going through something hard right now. As you sense your own hard battles, find the empathy that allows you to open your heart to others.

I dare you.

With love,

Recommended articles by Lissa Rankin:

About the authors:

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself. She is the founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and  healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of the books Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2013), The Fear Cure (2014), and The Anatomy of a Calling (2015).

Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and created the online community HealHealthCareNow.com. She is also the author of several other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Connect with Lissa on Facebook and Twitter, or visit LissaRankin.com.

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