Empathy is the basis of true compassion, since it makes you aware of the difficulties others face and their suffering. Empathy supports relationships in other ways as well, such as by helping you understand another person's inner workings. Empathic breakdowns are upsetting. When they happen frequently with vulnerable people such as children, they can be very harmful.
Empathy involves stimulating the actions, feelings and thought of another person. Stimulate her actions through imaging what it would feel like in your body to do them. Simulate her feelings through tuning into your own emotions and watching her face and eyes closely. Simulate her thoughts in taking into account what you know about her, and by forming good guesses about her inner world.
Being comfortable with closeness supports empathy
and compassion. Nonetheless, humanity's evolutionary heritage in which the greatest threats usually came from other people, combined with personal life experiences (especially childhood ones), can make an individual uncomfortable with closeness. Ways to increase comfort with closeness include focusing on your internal experience instead of on the other person, paying attention to awareness itself, using imagery, and being mindful of your inner world.
Buddha's Brain - R. Mendius, M.D.