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Gift Basket for a Compassionate World

Painting by Raja Bhattar (@thedrbookworm,

Last Saturday, I was one of five facilitators of a day-long retreat called Compassionate Selves for a Compassionate World offered as a part of The Garrison Institute Fellowship, to which I am an advisor. Fellow Nico Cary offered the idea that compassion occurs “when loving kindness meets suffering and remains loving and kind.” Over the course of six hours, the compassion practices took many forms and engaged all of our senses and imaginations. We allowed space for silence and listening, opened our awareness to both our challenges and our sources of strength, met ourselves as a kind friend, and connected with our common humanity.

As a closing ritual for the retreat and a way to ease ourselves back to our daily lives, we facilitators created a virtual gift basket to of ideas, concepts, and wishes for the participants, who were invited to add to their own gifts to the basket. Soon we had a long list of gifts—from heartfelt and serious to playful and whimsical. One participant even painted a scene with the tree from the meditation practice I led at the beginning of the session.

I collected the gifts that were offered and arranged them in a way that captured the openhearted spirit of the day. Working in collaboration, I was reminded of the powerful synergy that's possible when each of us shows up fully to offer our gifts, and allows others the trust and space to do the same. Because gifts are meant for sharing, I want to share the gift basket we generated with all of you as well, both as an image and in this video.

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