Sless, D. (2021). Compassion as a state of being: An intuitive inquiry [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

Buddhists, psychologists and transpersonal psychotherapists have considered compassion. However, there is nothing in the literature that examines the embodied sense of compassion from a psychotherapeutic stance. To fill that gap, this research study, which employs both intellect and intuition, explores whether it is possible to embody compassion as a state of being – a level of consciousness where compassion is embodied. Using the intuitive inquiry methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with four purposely sampled counsellors or psychotherapists. The research question was “What is it like to experience a compassionate state of being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?” The interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis as outlined by Anderson (2008). The major categories were: ego development, transpersonal consciousness, increased intuition, and relational connection. The results indicated that a compassionate state of being occurs at a transpersonal level of consciousness, occupying a relational position of “I-I”, “I-We”. The ego traverses through different developmental stages: “I-It”, “I-You” to “I-I”, “I-We”. The research also showed that each participant experienced a profound shift in his or her level of connection with the other, yet remained separate. However, each participant’s individual experience of embodying a sense of compassion was unique and personal – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These results stimulate future research into an understanding of whether entering a compassionate state of being could help psychotherapists to reduce, or even avoid, experiencing vicarious trauma, burnout or compassion fatigue when working from a compassionate state of being?





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