Buddhism / Self Awareness

Kindness

I was at a workshop a little while ago and was overwhelmed by the simple explanation “because life is so difficult, the only choice is kindness”. I had been struggling with finding a way to simplify the teachings of Buddhism and Yoga, particularly with regard to my work as a therapist, and here it was, all I had to do was be kind! I thought ‘wow!” I can do that! I was very much overcome with a sense of relief. I was excited that I wouldn’t need a degree or specialist training in this amazing modality – kindness.
But it turns out, as most things worth pursuing do, that being kind isn’t as easy as that. I have found myself over the past couple of months in situations that challenge my desire to be kind, either because it isn’t immediately clear which is the kind option for action or response or because the simple act of being kind isn’t going to provide my client (or my children) with that which will benefit them most in the long run… drat.
I have found however, that combining mindfulness with kindness has helped, in this way I can slow things down in my head and take both the immediate needs of the person and broader outcome goals into consideration. If I am mindful of my own physical and emotional reactions and of those being displayed by the person or people I am responding to, I can get a clearer picture or perhaps a more intuitive feel, for the kind path. Easier said than done of course, and it helps immensely to have my wise and compassionate husband to bounce all this off and guide me as I go fumbling along this path.
I must be completely honest too, sometimes being kind isn’t what I want to do, sometimes I just want to be cranky and stamp my little feet and habour feelings of life being unfair for fear that if I am kind in the face of perceived injustice or blatant unkindness then I am letting the other ‘win’, I know this isn’t the case of course. Once I am mindful of the perceived threat and can use my breath to calm down my sympathetic nervous system and turn off the flight or flight response I can get back to letting go of feelings of ‘deservedness’, my attachment to the idea that I should be treated a certain way, my expectations that people should be able to read my mind and act the way I believe they ‘should’. With mindfulness I have been able to cut down on the time I spend in a bad mood significantly, moods that once lasted days (or even weeks when I was experiencing depression) now can be tamed in 5-10 minutes and I can get back to my work of being kind.
So, I have discovered that being kind isn’t easy, but it is worth the hard work, it is worth developing ways of coming back to kindness and that it is a clear and manageable path to happiness.
with metta
Shari

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