If you have ever participated in any type of marathon, you know about the commitment that it takes. Training your body and mind, changing your lifestyle, managing your time, and ultimately the commitment of finishing what you started. Not always the most compassionate approach to commitment. Now, the traditional marathon has a new approach. On Saturdays in February and March you can participate in a virtual Compassion Marathon in hopes of cultivating a more compassionate mind and a more compassionate world.
The series of Compassion Marathons are being offered by Tana Pesso in honor of her teacher and co-author of her upcoming book based on the practices presented in the Marathon, H.H. Penor Rinpoche. The book will be published later this year by Wisdom Publications. Pesso speaks about the power of compassion as the seed for the qualities that we seek to cultivate in ourselves; peace, love, calm, balance, and equanimity. She stresses that the practice of compassion is designed to release the obstacles of ego, so that we are creating self love by releasing our selfish worries and concerns and directing our energy towards compassion for others.
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Pesso first made these meditation practices available on Craigslist.com and received feedback about the challenge of creating a compassionate heart. “People were expressing how difficult it was to cultivate love for others when they felt that they themselves were not loved,” says Pesso. So she emphasized the importance of creating compassion for yourself first, and the understanding that you do not have to do it alone. “Traditionally, all Buddhists, before they begin any practice, ask for support first. They draw upon all of the compassionate heart of all the buddhas in the world to support their practices.” So, the Compassion Marathon website stresses this aspect of support. When you chose to practice during the designated marathon time, you can know that you are not practicing in solitude, but with the support of a virtual community of fellow practitioners with the shared goal of compassion. And, you are encouraged to leave feedback and words of support for your fellow virtual community members in the Kindness Comment Box.
To participate in the marathon, you can choose to utilize the audio meditations that are posted on the site, 40 in all, in an eight hour period. Each meditation is approximately five minutes long, and builds on the previous ones toward more “complex” and “expansive” experiences. It is not necessary that you use the guided meditations to participate, though. The goal is simply to practice “together using whatever form suits your mind and heart.” After you’ve completed your Compassion Marathon, you are encouraged to leave a note in the Kindness Comment Box about the amount of time you practiced compassion and any additional thoughts or words of support for the community of practitioners.
The next Compassion Marathon in scheduled for Saturday February 21st. Pesso plans to facilitate seven Saturday marathons in a row and then continuing the practice through a marathon once a month thereafter. Her hopes are to create a virtual Sangha, or community, of people joining together to cultivate the gift of compassion. She hopes in the future to have live webcasts of communities across the globe participating in the Compassion Marathon. Ultimately, her vision is that the ongoing meditations will facilitate a deep inner connection; one that will shine the light on the spiritual path for each individual, in whatever tradition or experience that it manifests for them.
What an inspiring and inclusive way to explore the path of compassion in your life, and begin to connect to a world wide community committed to compassion.
If you participate, we would love to know how it went.