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September 2021

Dear Boundless Compassion facilitators,

As we move toward the end of September, I know that some of you have had an enriching and rewarding summertime; others of you have experienced the heartache of an untimely death or illness of a loved one. Each of us has known the pain of living on a planet where humans continue to treat one another in appalling ways and where the plight of our beautiful planet is ignored by many. There is no doubt that joy and sorrow weave in and out of our lives, reminding us that what we now have will continually be touched by impermanence.  Thank you, each one, for the hope and kinship that your commitment to compassion elicits among us and with all whom your loving-kindness touches.

On September 30th the BC Core Team members will meet for a workshop at Benet House in Rock Island, IL.  They are generously giving their time and energy to travel from six states in order for us to meet in-person. (We continue to meet monthly via Zoom.) During this workshop we will each contribute to a video that will be filmed for YouTube and elsewhere. We will speak to the various aspects of the BC program, with hope that it will generate further interest in BC and strengthen knowledge of the many ways that our BCF are contributing.

We will also engage in visioning for the future of BC.  I’m excited about this because of the creativity and valuable experience each BC Core Team member brings with him or her. Please do remember us with your supportive prayer on Sept.30 and if you have suggestions for improving or expanding the Boundless Compassion program, do send these to your BCF Group leader before the end of the month. These will be presented and discussed at our workshop. We most definitely welcome your ideas and suggestions.

With you on the journey,


Boundless Compassion Resources

Podcasts Buddha at the Gas Pump 

Thanks to Julie Honsey who led me to this site which contains conversations with “spiritually awakened people.” Over 580 persons have been interviewed by Rick Archer.  At this site you can search the interviews organized by name. On this page, you’ll find a list of those interviewed. (Search here for authors you are reading/studying in relation to compassion; you will most likely find them.)

BTW: Julie has created and is now leading a program that integrates Boundless Compassion with the Enneagram. I’m excited about this development and look forward to the expanding and deepening of this marvelous project.


Neurobiology and Compassion

Why Your Breath is Connected to Your Well-Being” (An article on the vagus nerve in relation to compassion”  by Caren Osten Berszberg

Here are two quotes from the article:

“In social interactions, we tend to focus on behavior—both ours and the person with whom we’re interacting. But Porges’ theory suggests that sociability is not only about voluntary behavior, but rather is rooted in neurobiology. The vagus nerve is involved in how we respond to people around us, notes Kelley, whether it’s a loving, caring interaction, or one involving fear and anxiety. How the vagus nerve will respond—whether it activates or deactivates—comes down to what the particular situation calls for.”

“In social settings, the vagus nerve encourages what Porges calls the “compassionate witness,” a physiological state where a person is not throwing out cues of anger, threat, or hurt, but is there as a peaceful and supportive observer. “The co-regulation helps the nervous system of the person who’s been hurt to feel safe enough without being defensive, to feel calm and validated,” says Porges.”

If you’re intrigued bout this, here is a 12 minute meditation to activate your vagus nerve.

“4 Ways to Calm Your Whole Body”  (this follows the above article by Berszberg)

  1. Breathe deeply. Deep, slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and lowers the heart rate, and this can be amplified through the rhythmic rising and falling of the belly during abdominal breathing. Try making your exhalations longer than your inhalations.
  2. Smile and be kind. The vagus nerve, Kelley says, is like a two-way street: “Emotions can affect vagal tone, but there is also communication coming back.” Prosocial behaviors, such as being friendly, compassionate, and grateful, can strengthen vagal tone.
  3. Gently massage your face and neck. “All the vagal pathways in the face relate to how we connect with others—our eyes, smile, voice,” says Schwartz. Gently massage tender spots around the eyes, ears, jaw, and neck to stimulate the vagus nerve. If you try self-massage, take care—Kelly notes it may cause your blood pressure to drop, potentially making you pass out.
  4. Laugh it out. A good laugh stimulates diaphragmatic breathing, activating the vagus nerve. You don’t even have to wait for a good joke to get the benefits: A 2016 study found “simulated laughter” (going through the motion of laughing, without a humorous cause for it) improved health outcomes among older adults.


A Story About Forgiveness

Stories greatly assist in integrating the basic concepts of compassion. The following true narrative could be a possible discussion starter after ” the seed of forgiveness” has been presented, or for inclusion in Week One’s presentation or study on forgiveness.

“After someone broke into an Augusta, Georgia, restaurant over the weekend, the owner of the business responded in an unusual way: He offered the suspect a job. “No police, no questions. Let’s sit down and talk about how we could help you and fix the road you’re on,” Carl Wallace wrote in a Facebook post, which included an image of the smashed door.

Wallace has owned Diablo’s Southwest Grill for about eight years. He said someone broke in around 4 a.m. Saturday, took off with an empty register and was out within 45 seconds as the restaurant’s alarm went off. Wallace told CNN his initial reaction was “anger” and “frustration,” but then he felt sorry for the person.   “You feel sorry that this is their chosen path in life. You also think about the dangers that this person is putting themself in every single time they do this.”

Wallace said he thinks the same person recently targeted at least two other nearby businesses. He said the owners told him they were also the victims of an attempted robbery and that their surveillance footage matched his.  With the break-in happening Easter weekend, Wallace said responding with forgiveness seemed like the right thing to do. “It was about just trying to be a mentor to somebody that’s clearly on the wrong path in life,” Wallace said.”

In a T.V. interview Wallace also said, “We are just one choice away from leading a different kind of life.” )


Children’s Book related to Compassion for Creation:  Berta Saves the River

This bi-lingual children’s book is about the life of Berta Caceres, a Honduran prize-winning environmentalist and Indigenous rights defender, murdered in 2016:

“Through the eyes of Ana, a young girl living in a beautiful, mountainous and remote Lenca village, we see a drama of courage unfold. Against powerful odds, the villagers save their life-sustaining river from being dammed for the profit of others…This inspirational story of Berta gives hope to people across the globe who want to protect their lives from environmental disaster so they are not forced to migrate.”

(This just-published book by Suzanne Llewellyn, holds the promise of launching an educational and fundraising campaign that will support Honduras for as long as people buy the book. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be transmitted by SHARE to support the grassroots organizations risking their lives to achieve the justice that Berta gave her life for.)

Boundless Compassion Events

I’m elated that another BC Four Day retreat team is being formed. Karen Kelley, Shirley Chambliss from Texas and Michelle (Mickey) Reed from NC are exploring the possibility of their offering this retreat in NC in 2022. As more specifics become available, I’ll share those with you.

BC Core Team member, Mary Dean Pfahler, has also connected with another retreat center where she will be leading the Four Day retreat in 2022. If you live in the region, please do encourage participation at the following retreat.

January 2 – 6, 2022

“Boundless Compassion” Retreat (in person)

Sun., 7:00 p.m. – Thurs., 4:00 p.m. Jesuit Retreat Center, Parma, OH

Led by Mary Dean Pfahler SND, Boundless Compassion facilitator

Information 440-884-9300 Registration


If you are leading a BC event that is open to persons beyond your own area, I am happy to include this information in my regular monthly newsletters and also on the “Events” section of my website. You need to send this info to me at least a month previous to when the newsletter is to come out, and the information must include the following (in this order):

  • date(s) of the event and the time (opening/closing)
  • title of retreat
  • indicate whether it’s virtual or in-person, or both
  • place of the event (or who is sponsoring the event if it’s virtual)
  • name(s) of presenter(s)
  • where to write for Information (email and/or website)
  • where to register (website or other…)

Congressman John Lewis (in an interview)

“You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more. We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.”

(He tweeted almost a year before his death): “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”