As I started my week I set out as usual trying to plan what I could do this week to fit in with my intention, but for some reason it felt wrong. Writing my post for last week also didn’t feel quite right either. What I am realising is being kind is a behaviour, a way of being and to plan it in order to have something to write about on here goes against the point of it. Being kind for me is helping people spontaneously, like a knee jerk reaction, when you feel like someone needs some help. It’s hard to plan. Yes of course you can plan to volunteer for things but is that truly being kind if it you are then going to tell people about it? It’s like you are doing something for something in return which for me feels slightly wrong.
Whilst musing over this I enquired on Facebook what kindness meant to them, these are a few of the things they said:
“Any action that makes someone happier without expecting something in return.”
“Giving up your seat to someone on the bus/tube even though you really need the sit down, but they look like they need it more.”
“Kindness is when you do something good for someone and get nothing back, including praise or admiration for being kind so you shouldn’ tell anyone. True acts of kindness are when you do something good completely anonymously, even to the person you are being kind to.”
“Making someone feel special when they are feeling a bit under the weather.”
So my instinct was right, pure kindness just happens, it’s a way of being and it can’t be planned for something to write about! So this week my “plan” has been to meditate on kindness everyday, notice kindness in the world around me, be kind and learn more about it all.
With this intention in mind I noticed the tube in London is running an art project called “Act’s of Kindness”, it’s funny how when something is in your consciousness you notice it more. People have contributed stories of where others have been kind to them on the tube, it’s so lovely!!! It’s so easy on the tube to act like everyone else and avert your eyes when someone is in need to help but this project brings to life people who have stepped beyond this and have shown compassion.
Mid week I picked up a book to read on our shelves in the lounge and it turns out it’s all about practising compassion in every day life, it’s called An Open Heart: Practising Compassion in Everyday Life by Dalai Lama. I didn’t realise this when I selected it, it’s my flatmates and has been sat there for a few years! How perfect to be reading it this month?! Here is an exert I have felt touched by so far:
“All beings are equal to you in their wish for happiness and their desire to overcome suffering. Recognizing this, you make a pledge to develop a good heart. It is important we have a warm heart. As long as we are part of human society, it is very important to be a kind warm hearted person.”
” May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy,
May the forlorn find new hope,
Constant happiness and prosperity,
May the frightened cease to be afraid,
And those bound be free,
May the weak find power,
And may their hearts join in friendship”
The Dalai Lama, An Open Heart.
Another aspect I have been thinking about is kind thoughts towards others, it’s so easy to judge, to make people wrong, to criticise, none of which is from a place of kindness. I really do believe everyone does the best they can with what they have got and it’s a case of remembering that when some does something that upsets or angers you. We judge people through our way of seeing the world which is based on our past experiences and beliefs, which means that no one is right or wrong it’s just the way they see life. What might be the “correct” way to behave for you will be completely unacceptable to someone else and visa versa.
How about if when you think a critical thought of someone, you balance it by looking for something great about them instead?
Often when we criticize someone we have actually behaved like them in the past but bury that deep in our subconsciousness as it doesn’t feel right to us. A way of finding compassion for someone is to ask yourself “where have I behaved like that before?”. I used to get so cross when people were late or didn’t do things they said they would do. It was only when I realised I have also done that myself to others that I could accept it, laugh and let it go.
All this focus on kindness, noticing it, reading about it and being it has lead me to have a really lovely week with lots of moments of feeling touched, moved and inspired. I have also been trying a new type of yoga which is more spiritual and has a strong focus on doing what ever your body needs. I have been doing it every day and through out the week my heart has been aching, I’ve noticed I have not fully been allowing myself to feel the sadness of my relationship ending and as the week has gone on I have just allowed myself to be with the feeling. Saturday’s class was truly amazing, I was focusing on setting my heart free and the teacher started to talk about letting go, as we were in one posture (half pigeon) he read a beautiful passage from a book about how we all have emotions that hurt us from our past. Apparently we hold a lot of emotion in our hips and this posture is especially good to help let it go. Well I had tears streaming down my eyes for the rest of the class but it was good. I needed it. I came home and just focused on doing what ever I needed to do and slowly I started to feel a sense of peace and happiness.
Just as you are kind to others it’s also just as important to be kind to yourself.