BRAKING FOR KINDNESS
As a professional speaker, I make the trip to my home airport in Orlando at least once a week. I learned quickly to make peace with morning traffic, flight delays and trying to stuff another pair of stilettos into my carry-on bags.
On my way to the airport earlier this morning I was abruptly cut off at the exit by a pick-up truck that dwarfed my sedan. I held my breath, slammed on my brakes, and exhaled reciting my personal mantra. As I was practicing letting-it-go, the gentleman opened his window started to honk and gesture not-so-kind motions at me.
I allowed myself to slip into that place, “has kindness disappeared in our world?”
When I discuss compassion in my lectures, more than one audience member will question if I am viewing our world through pollyanna-mindset rose-colored glasses.
WHERE HAS THE KINDNESS GONE?
As a brain doctor and mindfulness teacher, my first question is to ask you, “where is the kindness within ourselves?”
Stop your eye-roll and don’t click away from this blog article. I am not trying to shift focus away from the hatred, violence, and poverty in our world. I know that many of you have parents, life partners, or bosses that are a source toxic relationships in your life.
Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words ring truth today, more than any other time.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
To find kindness, we must first find kindness and compassion within ourselves.
SELF-CARE IS SELF-COMPASSION
When we are feeling like we are being drowned by toxic energy, give yourself permission to pull away. What can you do to feel as if you are nurturing your body, mind and spirit with kindness?
Is it time for a mental health day from work?
Mid-way through the election cycle last year, I canceled my cable. I read the news online once I have grounded myself in prayer and meditation so as not to feel stuck in despair. By practicing random and intentional acts of self-compassion, we bring the energy and memory of kindness back into our energy fields. (I was thankful for the chocolate protein bar at the bottom of my laptop bag).
SHARING KINDNESS IN THOUGHT AND SPIRIT
I am often asked by clients and audience members, “how can I hold a positive intention for myself or for others?”
Today given all that is unfolding in our world, I thought it was a gift to be able to share one of my favorite mindfulness-based practices.
Today I wanted to share a mindfulness-based practice that will help us to help spread love and compassion in your life, your family, and your community.
During a time when our community and planet needs love, support, and positive energy- I turn to the “Loving Kindness Meditation.”
The Loving Kindness Meditation is also known as Metta Bhavana in the Buddhist tradition. Loving-kindness is a meditation practice that produces four qualities of love: Friendliness (metta), Compassion (karuna), Appreciative Joy (mudita) and Equanimity (upekkha).
- To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner.
- Take two or three deep breaths with slow, long and complete exhalations.
- For a few minutes, feel or imagine the breath moving through your chest around your heart.
The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. If resistance is experienced, then it indicates that feelings of unworthiness are present. No matter, this means there is work to be done, as the practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or negativity. Then you are ready to systematically develop loving-kindness towards others.
Four Types of Persons to develop loving-kindness towards:
- a respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
- a dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
- a neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g.: a person who serves you in a shop;
- a hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with.
REPEAT THE PHRASES PICTURED BELOW:
- May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.
- May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
- May I be happy.
- May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
- May I be healthy and strong.
- May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
PERFORM A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS WHENEVER THE MIND GOES DARK
When I find myself slipping into a dark place of despair, I imagine putting on my pollyanna-mindset rose-colored glasses again. I take a deep breathe and ask, how can I be of service at this moment? It can start with a simple gesture of a smile, saying hello and letting the other person feel that you see them.
I whole-heartedly recognize that our nation is divided on many challenging and heartbreaking issues related to race, healthcare, and politics. My prayer today is that through the lens of kindness, we can start to connect to an internal place of Grace, and come together to find solutions and peace.
I refuse to believe kindness is extinct, how about you?