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Words on a Wall: A Poem and Reflection on CCT

Barbara Piper-Roelofs | March 21, 2018

Barbara Piper-Roelofs is a life coach, poet, and alumna of Senior Teacher Robert Cusick’s CCT class. She has kindly shared with us a poem inspired by her experiences in CCT, along with a reflection on “the gap,” her word for the critical moment between noticing suffering and reacting with intention. You can find her at or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as “Coach Barbara.”

We want to feature your voice on our blog, too. If you would like to share what has arisen for you around CCT or compassion practice generally, contact [email protected].

Words on a Wall

The questions on my lips

For so many years

Introduce stories not yet told


The ones that need telling

Before the

Family ties can ease

Let me go

and my body can relax into the grandness of it all

As I say the words out loud

As I write them down

Write them up

Trust them to the wall
Weight leaves my shoulders

Pressure leaves my mind

Love returns to my lips

And a space

to merely be



As the veil is lifted

Compassion and Loving Kindness

stand a chance

To express through me

To you

And as I look around


I see

That what I came here to bring

Is starting to take form
I now levitate in the beauty

Of the structure

And hang in there

With the slight ease of the rings

Without the tightness grip

With none of the heaviness of the weight

Within the warmth of them all


As it was

As it is

and as it will be

All at once


My words on a wall

Take shape

In the calm of my morning meditation


(Relief and gratitude

For again, I have been able to take a next step)
I let go of old stories

After acknowledging them all
And I keep Life

The life

that was given to me


Bowing deep

as I can never

balance that gift


Yet I will pass my gifts on

Use myself

beyond the fight of it all
In my words on a wall

Practicing compassion from the heart of the gap: A reflection


Expanding my reach through active compassion


The eight week CCT training was a wonderful journey. My initial intention to take this course was to ‘learn to teach’ and I was looking forward to the combination of academics and meditation. As a life coach, I have to be ‘other-focused’, practice deep listening and ‘be’ with my clients and their suffering without judgment and entirely in service of their process. Loving kindness comes naturally to me and contemplative studies are part of my daily life. Although a practiced meditator and academic, the set-up of the course and these meditations have made a new imprint on my daily life in the sense that the meditations and the class exercises brought a rhythm and deepening.

This course, however, made compassion more active. In every conversation, connection, moment, I feel as if it has expanded my reach. In a sense, more ‘practical compassion’.

The expansion for me, lies in the silence, the gap, the moment I stop when I see suffering. Similar to the place you reach in a meditation. I no longer have an ‘automatic response’, however kind it may be. I stop to think, feel and acknowledging the suffering. I then find my appropriate response, my contribution to alleviate that suffering easier. And it doesn’t matter if it is big or small, it is to the best of my ability in that moment. It could just be a smile.

I feel I can be more explicit about feeling great compassion for myself, for my friends and family and for everyone around me and I can see and hear that it affects and inspires people. ‘We are all one’ is a message which in these past week, increasingly resonates.


Compassion at work


When I coach people who are stuck, or find it hard to choose or make a decision, I sometimes describe my work with the example of the trapeze; letting go of the first bar, taking the leap and trusting that you will grab on to the next bar successfully. The real skill is not so much in the letting go or grabbing on to the next bar, but in allowing yourself to ‘be’ in the air, in that ‘space’. I call it the gap. Similar to what happens in meditation. And if you behave differently in that space, something different or new can happen. There is a possibility.


My most significant take-away lies in the cultivating, the daily practice. By practicing it, more conscious every day, it has expanded my reach and helped me truly cultivate compassion. My desire is to pass it on as a teacher of cultivating compassion.