Updated: Jul 14
Learning Mindful Compassion from Bahar-Bechukotai
In this week’s Torah portion, Bahar-Bechukotai, we learn about being fair in business practices, specifically in the Jubilee year when the land is to be returned to its original owners.
“And if you sell to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another (25:19).” And , "Do not take advantage of each other, I am the Lord your G-d (25:17)."
These verses remind us to treat others fairly and compassionately, and to be mindful of our actions and how they affect those around us.
Later on we learn that our actions have an impact, not only on others, but ourselves as well: "If you walk in my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit (26:3)." This verse teaches us the importance of being mindful of our relationship with G-d and following his commandments. We can experience blessings in our lives, if we are kind and thoughtful of others and follow the commandments of the Torah.
This is not the first place that the Torah emphasizes the importance of treating others with compassion and avoiding exploitation.
I guess we all need to be reminded a lot! There is a mindfulness meditation poster that says, “Just be kind, you never know what someone else may be going through.” The other day I was waiting for a referral from the secretary at my local health services . The secretary seemed impatient and distracted with the person in front of me. She wasn’t so nice. The person started to yell and walked out. The secretary then got up and left. I wasn’t sure what to do. Another secretary whispered to me that this secretary just got a message that her close friend died, someone she had tried to help get necessary treatments.
Apparently she had no time to process or deal with the loss because she had to move on to take care of the long line of people. Maybe we are the ones who are distracted or too quick to judge?
We have no clue what someone else is going through. Some days we might not even realize what we’re going through ourselves. We wouldn’t want someone judging us on a bad day. Everyone is just doing the best that they can just like we are. So STOP, and take a moment to think about the fact that the other person could be facing an issue that we can’t imagine.
Mindfulness encourages us to be mindful of our relationships with others, and to cultivate a sense of empathy and understanding.
Compassion and understanding is like a muscle and we need to exercise it.
Try this short loving kindness practice:
Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, allowing your body and mind to settle as much as possible in the moment.
As you inhale, notice the air moving through your body, and as you exhale, imagine releasing any tension you may be holding onto. Imagine yourself offering compassion to someone and you receiving their kindness in return. As you continue to breathe in and out, visualize yourself sending love and understanding to others, including yourself, your loved ones, and even those you may have difficulties with.
Repeat these phrases to yourself, imagining sending this loving kindness to yourself and others :
May we be safe
May we be healthy
May we loved and love ourselves as we are
May we be free from suffering and live with ease
Add any phrases that have meaning for you.
When you feel ready, gently open your eyes and return your attention to your surroundings.
Spend a few more moments here if you want.
While it’s been about 2,000 years since we observed the commandant of the Jubilee year, we can still learn a lot about treating people fairly, kindly, and non-judgmentally
The practice of mindfulness takes time and patience to cultivate. By making an intention to incorporate the mindfulness practice of loving kindness into your daily life, you can make a difference on how you treat people and yourself, and spread compassion, tenderness and understanding.
Couldn’t we all use a little more of that these days?
For a longer guided self -compassion practice :