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seeds of compassion

The Reflection & Conversation Space at Seeds of Compassion is a place for participants to support each other in practicing compassion and deepen their conference experience. The inviting space will offer a range of hosted and self-directed activities for people to reflect on their experience, share stories, explore possibilities and connect with
one another. Participants can join a conversation, offer a creative expression, take a stretch break, or simply sit quietly and breathe…

Seeds of Compassion and Compassion Circles

Seeds of Compassion is a 5 day gathering in Seattle, April 11-15, 2008; a collaboration with the Dalai Lama designed to “plant hope” and “nature kindness and compassion in the world, starting with children and all those who touch their lives”.

I was touched to listen to this video by the Dalai Lama, speaking about his concern and hopes for the future of humanity, of which he reminds us we are all a part.

Educator and World Café host Ashley Cooper has been ‘on the scene’ in Seattle, supporting the Seeds of Compassion by
event by bringing World Café principles and practices to the table. She has been helping to design Compassion Circles, spaces for dialogue that will support the Seeds of Compassion event, as well as inform conversations leading up to and following it.

Here is Ashley’s report on the way this space will be created and used during the conference:

On April 13th and 14th (days three and four of the event), there will be a Reflection & Conversation Space for people to reflect, explore, and share their experience of the event and its core mission of seeding compassion. Through a combination of hosted and self-directed activities, we envision creating a space of compassion, which supports people in practicing compassion and deepening the meaning they make of their conference experience. Because we anticipate a diverse group of participants with various learning styles, languages and cultural traditions, we will attempt to appreciate the many and varied forms of self-expression by offering space for the following during each 90-minute session:

  • Hosted conversation (i.e. World Café, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, dialogue, etc.)
  • Hosted art (i.e. tables and wall-space for simple drawing, collage, etc.),
  • Self-directed movement (i.e. floor space for simple stretching, yoga, Tai Chi, progressive relaxation, etc.)
  • Self-directed quietude (i.e. space for meditation, contemplation, journaling, etc.).

We estimate (guestimate!) that we’ll have between 60 and 150 people join us for each of the nine 90 minute sessions to be held in the Alki Room at the Seattle Center. These sessions will be hosted by teams of four professionals whose collective experience and expertise may include the use of a variety of conversational forms (i.e. World Café,
Appreciative Inquiry, Council Circles, Open Space Technology, etc.) and expressive modes (i.e. Expressive Arts professionals, graphic recorders, recorders of digital stories (audio/video), conveners of story circles, etc.).

The Reflection & Conversation Space at Seeds of Compassion is a place for participants to support each other in practicing compassion and deepen their conference experience. The inviting space will offer a range of hosted and self-directed activities for people to reflect on their experience, share stories, explore possibilities and connect with
one another. Participants can join a conversation, offer a creative expression, take a stretch break, or simply sit quietly and breathe…

All beings and all forms of being are welcome.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that rule seems to apply to compassion, a nebulous concept heavily prized, rarely defined.

Seeds of compassion are planted here

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that rule seems to apply to compassion, a nebulous concept heavily prized, rarely defined.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that rule seems to apply to compassion, a nebulous concept heavily prized, rarely defined.

It is not for lack of trying that proponents of Seeds of Compassion, an impressive effort to raise the spotlight on the importance of kindness and compassion, have their work cut out for them.Like beauty, most people think they’re already compassionate enough. And similar to another popular saying about legislating morality, it is not likely that compassion can be ordered from on high. Freedom means people will always be free to act as compassionate as they choose to.

This does not mean compassionate communities shouldn’t be encouraged. They should. Seeds of Compassion is to be credited for spearheading the effort.

Ron Rabin, executive director of the Bellevue-based Kirlin Charitable Foundation, which focuses on early-childhood development and has launched the Seeds initiative, offers a compelling vision for compassion that is rooted in sustainable, actionable, measurable results.

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Educators, neuroscientists and other experts have long been examining the role compassion plays in early-childhood development and in communities. The explorations move into the public arena with the arrival of theexiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

The presence of one of the most respected religious leaders in the world would be a catalyst for change without the Seeds effort. But the combination of the Dali Lama’s five-day stay in Seattle coupled with a series of high-profile events exploring compassion raises the impact significantly.

From large-setting forums such as at the Edmunson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus to in-home discussions, compassion promises to be the buzzword for the next week, at least. Schools such as the John Stanford International School in Seattle are using a newly created curriculum to teach compassion to their students. Schools can download the curriculum free.

The presence of Raj Manhas, the former superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, lends the grass-roots effort gravitas and ensures a youth-centered connection. This is good. Children are the future. If they grow up instilled with compassion, we’re all better off.