As the UK heads towards another winter, the homelessness crisis continues to escalate as we see more not less people sleeping rough, this also includes an increase in young people and women.
Through our practice of yoga we learn self love, and as we deepen our practice we learn to love all beings, extending empathy, kindness and compassion at every opportunity that we can. I believe that we are all born with compassion. Thus the quality of compassion is already within us, all we need to do is awaken it.
We believe that we are compassionate people. But are we really? Compassion is described as the “sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. Others see compassion as “love in action” (Karma Yoga). From this we may surmise to say that compassion could be defined as “love in action with a desire to alleviate it the distress of others”.
Blessed you must be if you have never suffered some level of trauma. However most of us have all suffered some level of trauma in our lives or suffered a personal or family loss. This enables us to comprehend the level of trauma to someone that has suffered the loss of everything that they ever owned, their home, their expectation of daily food, access to toilets and bathing facilities. Is it no wonder they often look disheveled or may turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. This level of trauma would massively impact a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Would you also lose hope? Can you put yourself in their shoes, even just for one night?
It is because of what homeless people do, how they appear, what we expect from them, the judgements we make without knowing the full story that we may find it challenging to have compassion for them.
It is easy to be compassionate to people that we like, but this isn’t real compassion, how people look, how they act and how we expect them to be influences whether they qualify for our compassion, but again this is not real compassion. Let us not forget the above statement about “love in action” and “the desire to alleviate others distress”. It doesn’t say anything about what they look like, how they behave or if they live up to our expectations of how someone should be in today’s society. True compassion sees nothing but the need to alleviate another persons distress.
Therefore, I believe that the test of true compassion is whether we can care for all, including our homeless community whom we may find the most challenging to help. As this period of cold and dark nights has arrived, spare what you can, alleviate another persons distress, be kind and exercise compassion.
Here’s some wonderful organisations doing some great work, not sure how you may be of service, then check them out – Crisis – Shelter – The Big Issue Foundation – Centrepoint – Depaul UK – Nightstop UK – Emmaus UK – Homeless Link - Streetlink