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Cultivating Compassion in Difficult Times

In the wake of tragedy I often turn to the wisdom of my practice. I’ve learned over the years that one of the biggest impacts I can have in this world is to keep my heart open.

Many people feel frustrated that there is nothing they can do to help those who are in pain. There is something you can do. You can commit to practicing compassion and keep all who are grieving in your prayers.

It’s normal to experience intense emotions during  difficult times—anger, fear, grief, and sadness. Feeling any number of these emotions is a sign your heart is already open, and you’re teaching it to stay open through loss.

From an energy perspective you have two choices, allow tragedy to shut you off, or use it as a practice in staying open. When you shut down your vibration is lowered and it’s very challenging to access love, compassion, and wisdom. By staying open, your vibration is raised and you tap into creativity, empathy, and intuition. In difficult times everyone needs as much empathy, love, and wisdom as possible. If you have the willingness to offer it, you are doing a huge part to support the world.

When you practice compassion for yourself you are practicing compassion for everyone. You can have the biggest and most immediate healing impact on yourself and in your relationships. Let tragedy serve to awaken you and open your heart to new depths.

Mindful practices for cultivating compassion:

1. Allow yourself to grieve. It’s brave to honor the pain you feel and it brings you close to your own vulnerability. Cry if you need to and let the emotions move through your body without censoring them.

2. Make your body an offering. Come into child’s pose and rest your forehead to the earth. Release your hips and soften your entire body. This pose is about connecting to your true source, Mother Earth, and is a gesture of offering to your deepest wisdom. Focus on your intuitive center (third eye) and give thanks for all of your teachers. Send gratitude to the painful lessons you have learned because they have shaped your courageous heart. Soften. Breathe. Release. Rest.

3. Meditate on what you are feeling. Sit in a comfortable position, in a quiet space and focus your breath in your heart. Breathe deeply in and out through your nose to ground your nervous system and begin to soothe your heart. Place one hand on your heart and repeat the mantra as many times as you like, I am here for you. I am here for you. I am here for you.

5. Sit in meditation and direct compassion and love. Breathe in light and love and breathe out this prayer, may you be free from suffering, may you feel safe, may you be loved. Repeat this for several minutes and close with your hands in prayer in front of your heart.

6. Squash the negative self-talk. When you catch yourself in a limiting belief or negative thought loop, pause, take a breath and repeat this mantra, darling I love you. Darling I love you. Darling I love you. Repeat this practice as often as necessary.

All my heart.


Photo by Lani Trock.


  • Jennifer

    Hi Ashley!!! I have been doing child’s pose almost every day since a week already, and know that you are mentioning it, i feel there is so much that i still need to release, so everyday i am thanking PachaMama for everything , accepting things how they are, and releasing the old to welcome the new and start being more compassionate, but its been a challenge for me . Thank you so much for your words, the mindful practice and for all the amazing energy in all your posts, i really appreciate and admire you and all the contribution you do through all your work, much love and good vibes !!!

    • ashley

      Hey Jennifer!
      It’s wonderful to hear from you. Child’s pose is deeply healing and restorative. It’s amazing how much our bodies need to release even on a daily basis. I am thrilled you are practicing daily and look forward to hearing how things continue to unfold for you. Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful words and for being here. Sending full moon blessings and lots of love your way. xoa

  • Kami

    Hey Ashley! Long time, no see – but I do read a lot of what you post. I love this and how you gave very specific actions we can take. I will be trying them. If I’m ever in your area I will try to sign up for one of your breath work offerings. Thank you so much for all of your heart that you put into helping others. Hugs!

    • ashley

      Hi Kami! It’s great to connect with you here. Thank you for taking the time to say hi and share. I’m glad you are going to try these steps, they are seemingly subtle but really helpful. Keep me posted and if you’re ever down here it would be amazing to have you at a class! Thinking of you and sending lots of love your way. xoa

  • I was at my work place in Brussels when the terror attacks happened and still go through unknown emotions. It’s unreal.
    I was so surprised to read your piece – it’s comforting and soothing to notice that horror can connect us all in a good way worldwide. Thanks for the tips to process this!
    take care, carla

    • ashley

      Hello dear Carla,
      This is so huge what you went through. I am glad this post was helpful to you. My aim is to connect through these experiences and help bring us all closer to our hearts and each other. Tragedy of any sort has a ripple effect and is felt throughout the world. Love and compassion ripple out as well and we all need more of that light in our lives. Thinking of you today and grateful you are here. xo

  • soulsister

    Dearest Ashley,
    Gratitude does not express what your words mean to me. Navigating recent loss has left me in moments of complete darkness. I stumbled upon your writing last month and it has given me moments of light. There are times when there is no appetite, and reading your recipes helps inspire a healthy meal. This post is perfect. Please keep sharing, you are like a sunbeam on a dark forest path. Sending love and thanks

    • ashley

      Hello dear,
      Thank you for reaching out and sharing what you’ve been going through. I am glad the journal has given you some light and hope. Means everything to me. Truly. Sending love to you this afternoon. xo

  • Katy

    So lovely and helpful, Ashley. It is so hard to know what to do with all of the feelings of helplessness and sadness that come up with such a tragedy. These are such beautiful practices, thank you so much xxxx

  • […] Mindful practices for cultivating compassion. By the ever inspiring Ashley Neese. […]

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