Our Connection is Compassion: A LifeForce Yoga Meditation to Remember

In 1955, Albert Einstein expressed the wisdom beneath the delusion of our separateness, what the seers and sages of the East have understood for thousands of years—that we are eternally and intimately connected by compassion. “A human being,” said Einstein, “experiences himself… as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us.”

When we have been wounded in childhood, many of us forget the wisdom of our connection and carry our sense of shame and isolation throughout our lives in the form of depression. We can free ourselves from this prison, Einstein says, by “widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” But if we have suffered the pain of being human, if we’ve had our hearts broken, if we’ve been traumatized and betrayed, how do we shed the armor that protects the heart to embrace life fully again? The practice of yoga and meditation offers us many tools to break the bars of our prison of delusion. In a simple meditation experience, we can directly experience consciousness beyond the personal. In a simple breathing practice, we can deeply sense our connection to “the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Here’s a practice that has served me and my LifeForce Yoga students. May it serve you.

Find a comfortable sitting position and allow your eyes to close. In your heart’s mind, imagine a place that you consider beautiful—perhaps a Weintraub_Ch6_MountainBreathcultivated garden or a forest trail or a beach or a gallery in an art museum—a place that brings you feelings of ease and contentment.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two (not longer than a count of four), and as you pause, imagine that you are there, in that beautiful place. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum,” which means, “I am that.” Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, imagine the face of a being you love, two-legged, four-legged, it doesn’t matter. See a face that makes your heart smile.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see the face of that precious being. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, imagine a being you know who is suffering.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see this precious being who is suffering. Allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, imagine a crowded city street, people of all ages, colors, all manner of dress, rushing. See each person intent on the delusion of his separate thoughts, her unique feelings.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see this sea of humanity. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, imagine a place of torment in the world—a refugee camp, a flood, a war zone and see the faces contorted with emotions or the blank stares of hopelessness.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see this tormented crowd. See individual faces reflecting pain. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, imagine the joy of a community celebration—a wedding, a birth, an engagement, a graduation. See individual faces reflecting the true happiness they feel.

Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see the radiant faces. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Now in your heart’s mind, see an image that makes your heart smile, an image that lights you up inside, maybe from nature, or maybe it’s a face.
Take little “steps” of breath through the nostrils, as though you’re climbing a mountain. When you reach the top of the mountain, sustain the breath for a heartbeat or two, and as you pause, see that image that nourishes your body mind and spirit. And then allow the breath to release with the mantra “so hum.” I am that. Repeat two times.

Sit for a little while longer, reflecting on your deep and intimate connection with everything, everything, everything. This is compassion. This is wisdom. This is love. This is who you truly are.

For more LifeForce Yoga Practices, please click here.

To find a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner in your area, please click here.

About the Author

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub E-RYT 500, MFA, YACEP, C-IAYT, founded the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally, and is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. The LifeForce Yoga protocol is used by health care providers worldwide. She is involved in ongoing research on the effects of yoga on mood.

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What People Say

“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“I have gained a softer heart, more receptive mind, and tools to enrich both personal and professional aspects of my life.” – Regina Trailweaver, LICSW, clinical social worker, Hancock, VT.
“Yoga Skills for Therapists is the ideal resource for those who want to bring yoga practices into psychotherapy or healthcare. Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering. Helpful clinical insights and case examples emphasize safety, trust, and skillful adaptation to the individual, making it easy to apply the wisdom of yoga effectively in the therapeutic context.” — Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author, Yoga for Pain Relief, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
“A client who returned said, "When I came before, you helped me understand and get where I wanted to go. Now you show me yoga practices I use to help myself understand and get where I want to go.” — Sherry Rubin, LCSW, BCD, LFYP, Downingtown, PA
“I learned lots of ways to reduce the anxiety and depression of my patients and myself.” – Aviva Sinvany-Nubel, PhD, APN, CNSC, RN, psychotherapist, Bridgewater, N.J.
“I integrate strategies like mantra tones and pranayama, but above all I invite myself and those I teach to cultivate svadhyaya, to practice self-observation without judgment.” — Barbara Sherman, RYT 200, LFYP, Tucson, AZ
“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“My patients can now have the same effects as many medications without having to actually take medication!” — Deborah Lubetkin, PSY.D, LFYP, West Caldwell, NJ
“I have gained an incredible opening and clearing of old obstructions. I hope to return to my life and fill this opening with things I love to do and that give me joy!” — Lisa Shine, administrative assistant, Ballston Lake, NY
“This workshop has changed so much — my self-image and my life. My own heart’s desire is 100% clear. I gained tools to help myself and others to live life fully.” — Marcia Siegel, Yoga teacher, therapist, Carlsbad, CA.
“This program changed my life in a significant way. It helped me connect with the spirit which is something you can’t get from psychotherapy and medication.” – G. W., artist, Pittsburgh, PA
“I began a fantasy during the meditation exercise... almost as if I’d been there. It’s now an on-going work of fiction.” — Serian Strauss, Tanzania
“I have found the LFYP training to be incredibly useful in giving people specific tools to use in maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance, and further opening their intuitive abilities.” — Nancy Windheart, RYT-200, LFYP, Reiki Master, Animal communication teacher, Prescott, AZ
“I have been reminded that I am not on this path alone, that others are sharing the journey that sometimes seems so difficult. I have also been reminded of the importance of daily practice and I will do that. The whole program has been an incredible experience for me. Thank you!” — Lorraine Plauth, retired teacher, Voorheesville, NY
“My personal practice will change, as well as my yoga classes. I have a better understanding of yoga!” — Andrea Gattuso, RYT, Yoga Teacher, Hackettstown, N.J.
“I feel profoundly transformed, both physically and emotionally. The connection between mind, body and spirit was clearly evident to me, but revealed to me through this workshop as an integrally vital link to overall health.” — Nadine Richardson, program manager at rehab agency, Monroe, CT
“I gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
“I have found the pranayama (breathing practices) especially easy to introduce in a clinical setting. Some people have benefited quickly in unexpected and transformative ways.” — Liz Brenner, LICSW, LFYP, Watertown, MA
“This workshop helped me rededicate my energies and begin to work through some of the blocks I’ve felt creatively.” — Steve Mark, college professor, New Haven, CT
“My life is already changed! I will use the tools I learned in my own practice and in my work. I feel safe and seen.” — Susan Andrea Weiner, MA, teacher/expressive arts facilitator, El Cerrito, CA.
“Giving my clients a strategy and permission to quiet their minds and rebalance the sympathetic nervous system has been very beneficial to them and in our work together.” — Sue Dilsworth, PhD, RYT 200, LFYP, Allendale, MI
“I came hoping to learn to move past some of the obstacles blocking my creativity. Over the course of this weekend, I feel I’ve gained a certain measure of faith in myself and in my ability to change. I also had some realizations that I believe will be very helpful to me. I feel encouraged. Both the content and presentation of this program were so well-thought out that I can’t think of any way to improve it.” — Andrea Gollin, writer & editor, Miami, FL
“I utilize the LFY techniques in both a class room setting and one-on-one environment. The skills have infused my teachings with compassion, mindfulness, and awareness.” — Kat Larsen, CYT, LFYP
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