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Selves in the World

By Randall Buskirk

SUN APR 18, 2021

"...a strange admixture of self and world..."

You might be surprised to learn that the word "empathy" is a pretty new word—around mid-20th century—coined as a translation of the slightly older German word einfühlung, literally "feeling-in."

Maybe its newness is why it can be a challenging idea to bring into practice in these times.

The possibilities latent in our selves as humans, of course, have been around since the beginning.

I hope the practices that cultivate your body awareness (proprioception), inner awareness (interoception), and sensory awareness (exteroception) are helping you to connect to others and the world in a supportive and nourishing way. They are the ground of empathy, I think, the elements out of which it is constructed.

In a recent D.E.I. course called "Deeper Empathy," we looked into the research and different ways of understanding what is meant by that term. As you might or might not imagine, there isn't clear-cut agreement among researchers.   

For a nice snapshot of the history of empathy as a concept in our culture, check out this article in The Atlantic, which includes that wonderful phrase above..."a strange admixture..."

When it comes to bringing life to this life practice, I can't recommend highly enough The Art of Empathy, by Karla McLaren.

I like to think that Yoga for Moderns includes not only modern understandings of neurology but also modern understandings of empathy in what it means to practice yoga—the engagement of the body, mind, and heart in the world we live in now.