Guerilla Compassion

Toward the end of my “bad years,” when I was discovering the astonishing power of compassion, I stumbled across a practice called, of all things, “guerilla compassion.”  So I gave it a whirl.  Not only was it easy to do, it was healing.  Amazing.

Mostly I did it in airports or waiting for friends at busy restaurants.  In these hectic places, I’d try to get a sense of the faces and moods of individuals passing by me and then, holding each image for a few seconds, offer the person a very stripped down form of the loving-kindness (metta) practice:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be free [from suffering].

Since then I’ve learned that “guerilla compassion” can take a number of forms. Another version is simply a “silent blessing.”

Practice guerrilla compassion — silently blessing people on line at the bank, at the supermarket, in the cars next to us in traffic. Each blessing a tiny Sabbath, a secret sanctuary offered to a hurried and unsuspecting world.

— Sharon Salzberg in Sabbath by Wayne Muller

“Each blessing a tiny Sabbath, a secret sanctuary offered to a hurried and unsuspecting world….” No wonder it can be healing.