Circle of Compassion: Meditations
for Caring for the Self and the World
by Gail Straub
by Cory Verellen
to the Circle Of Compassion: Meditations for Caring for
the Self and the World. This four -week journey of meditations
is for anyone who longs to put their compassion into action, to
make compassion real in everyday ways. It’s for those who want
to balance caring for self and caring for the world, because they
recognize that the health of the human psyche and the health of
the world are inextricably related, and we cannot truly heal one
without healing the other. And it’s for those who understand that
to deepen in compassion we need to open our hearts and face the
suffering inside ourselves and in the world around us, because
when we face suffering with an open heart, we find momentary pain
but we also find the doorway to lasting fulfillment and freedom.
These meditations are based on my book The Rhythm of Compassion:
Caring for Self, Connecting with Society, which uses the
metaphor of the in-breath and the out-breath to help people balance
care of self and others. There’s a natural time for the in-breath
of caring for self and family, and a natural time for the out-breath
of caring for the needs of the world. The challenge is to become
skillful in following your rhythm of compassion--knowing when
it’s time to go inward and when to go out into the community.
These short meditations are designed to help you learn to follow
your unique rhythm of compassion. In part the meditations are inspired
by the most frequent questions and concerns expressed in letters
and e-mails, and at lectures from people who had read The Rhythm
* What are the most effective tools for balancing caring for self
* How do I find the courage to face suffering--my own, my family,
and my community?
* How do I find the time to serve, or, the time to care for myself?
* How do I know when I’ve done enough for the person I care for?
* What helps when the suffering of the world overwhelms me?
* How do I cultivate genuine compassion rather than moral do-goodism?
Though these questions came from a remarkably diverse cross-section
of people--ministers, social workers, teachers, parents, therapists,
business executives and managers, college students, activists,
and healers--what they all had in common was a yearning to deepen
in compassion, and a recognition that their own health was inseparable
from the health of the world.
Circle of Compassion is designed for you to incorporate into your
chosen spiritual practice. The journey is divided into four main
parts with several sets of meditations within each part, as well
as a brief introduction on the specific purpose behind each part.
I suggest working with several meditations a day. Start by gently
following the pathway of your in-breath, and then your out-breath.
Notice how much your breath can teach you about how to balance
inner and outer. Continue gently following your breath until your
mind becomes calm and receptive. Then read the meditation several
times, letting the words enter your consciousness. If you follow
this time of focusing on the meditation with a period of stillness
the words will settle in you at a deeper level. Sometimes you may
want to return to a specific meditation several times during the
day, or work with an especially relevant meditation for several
I suggest working your way through all the meditations during
the four- week journey, as this lays the foundation for finding
and following your rhythm of compassion. At the end of the four
weeks I invite you to use the meditations in a more spontaneous
way. For instance if you know you are tired or reaching burn-out,
you can turn to “Part Two The In-Breath: Caring for Self” and allow
the “Claiming Self-Care” meditations to guide you towards self-renewal.
Maybe you feel overwhelmed as you care for an aging parent or difficult
co-worker, then turn to “Part Three The Out-Breath: Caring for
the World” and the meditations in “Cultivating the Four Qualities
of Mature Compassion” can help you care for these people in a tender
and skillful way. Or perhaps you are deeply concerned about caring
for the earth, then you might turn to the meditations in “Practicing
Mature Compassion for the Earth” and learn about ecological mindfulness.
This four-week journey is based on my book The Rhythm Of Compassion:
Caring for Self, Connecting with Society which is a much more in-depth
program and if you are interested in purchasing that book you can
go to Amazon.com or
to our website www.empowermenttraining.com.
My hope is that by using the simple meditations in this journey
you will learn to integrate your rhythm so your inner self-care
helps you serve the world, and your caring for the world contributes
to your soul. I believe that both our own well-being and the well-being
of the planet depend on how skillfully we practice this integration.
With my warmest blessings,
Author, Activist, and Founder Empowerment Training Programs
Itinerary for the Circle of Compassion: A Four Week Journey
Week One: Learning to
Follow Your Rhythm of Compassion
Week Two: The In-Breath:
Caring for Self
Week Three: The Out-Breath:
Caring for the World
Week Four. In Harmony with
Your Rhythm of Compassion
Gail Straub is the co-author of the best selling Empowerment:
The Art of Creating Your Life As You Want It, and the author
of the critically acclaimed The Rhythm of Compassion: Caring
For Self, Connecting With Society, as well as Circle
of Compassion a book of meditations. Considered a leading
authority on empowerment, she co-directs the Empowerment Institute
a school for transformative leadership. The Institute’s certified
graduates from cultures as diverse as Afghanistan, Africa, Russia,
and Asia are implementing the empowerment model in education,
business, health, hip-hop, and social change. Over the past thirty
years she has trained thousands of people worldwide in empowerment,
engaged spirituality, and the wisdom of the feminine. Her latest
book is the award winning feminist memoir, Returning to My Mother’s
House. Gail was raised Catholic and today considers herself a
Christian Buddhist as her spiritual practices include both meditation
as well as a passionate prayer life.
For Further Support
For more extended meditations and for the fullest understanding
of the ideas in this journey we recommend Gail Straub’s book
The Rhythm of Compassion: Caring for Self, Connecting with Society
available through amazon.com or
For further information on Gail Straub’s trainings and
Empowerment Training Programs
West Hurley, New York, 12491
Web Site: www.empowermenttraining.co