The compassion and empathy group is for us to come together in support of what is alive in each of us while also practicing related skills. Discussions on the topic may come from books, movies or podcasts. The group participation is that of peers, with each of us bringing our respective empathy understandings to share while learning from each other.
The COVID-19 experience has brought to us many challenges as well as opportunities for growth. In addition, life brings up for us the usual spectrum of pain and pleasures. This is the content which we will draw from within a supportive environment.
Empathy skills can range from holding space for another by simply listening while saying nothing, providing reflection by summarizing your understanding, to a number of other approaches. One of those approaches is seeking to understand another's experience in terms of observation, feelings, and needs (see Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg). For example, I might hear my friend complain about their neighbors party last night. I could then provide empathy by saying: "when I hear you say that your neighbor was playing loud music all night ("observation"), I am guessing that you might be feeling frustrated and angry ("feelings") while really needing sleep and rest ("needs"). Then your friend could clarify whether in fact those guesses were accurate. While it is not necessary that you are proficient in Non-Violent Communication per se, the above NVC language is one we will use at times in the group (see "Feelings" and "Needs" pdfs below). Most importantly, the empathy group's intention is to be there for each other.