(image from Pixabay - I support Pixabay with donations, why don't you? Show some appreciation and kindness towards those that provide us with these amazing pictures)
I meditate every single day. (Most of the time!)
I am sure that I have mentioned in before, but I use the Headspace app to meditate as I like to be guided in my meditation (though as I have become more competent with my meditation I can meditate anywhere, anytime, with or without guidance). Andy's soothing voice keeps me on track and focused on what I am doing in those 15 minutes of self care and self love.
As I sit on the chair or the mat, I become hyper aware of the sounds around me, the feel of the floor, the smells in the air, the aches and pains in my body - or the lightness of my body - the rise and fall of the lungs, a rhythmic process of little life and death, that pause between breathes, and then the focus of the practice.
I have been meditating on kindness the past week, and today Andy raised some interesting points on kindness and the type of kindness we should be practicing - towards others and ourselves.
When we are kind is it something we do without any expectation of anything in return? Do we keep a score card of kindness, and suppress pent up anger when we believe that we have been kinder to others then they have been to us? When it comes to ourselves, do we think we don't deserve kindness because we are screwed up too much and perhaps haven't been kind enough to others to actually deserve any ourselves?
I worry, in a sense, that exploring a specific kindness this month, and in comparing my kind acts to that of others, I have subconsciously been keeping score? I hope not, that has not been my intention, my intention has been to be more mindful of when I have been kind, both intentionally and unintentionally (and the same with people being kind to me). But it does make me wonder, when we practice kindness is it truly unconditional?
Matt Licata, a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher, explores the path of unconditional kindness, stepping away from thinking of kindness as a goal or achievement - "Unconditional kindness is not a goal or an achievement, for which we are to shame and blame ourselves for ‘failing’ at (which we inevitably will), but is an intention, an aspiration, and a commitment to meeting whatever arises in our present here-and-now experience with tenderness, warmth, and gentleness.
We can actually train ourselves to open our hearts and soften into our sadness, our grief, our rage, our fears, and our anxieties, cutting into millions of moments of meeting ourselves with fundamental aggression – as we likely experienced as young children in our families of origin."
I really resonate with the idea that we have to come back to a childlike approach to kindness and experiencing our emotions and responses to things. When you think of children, they have moments of anger and frustration, they fully embrace the emotion in the moment, and then the temper tantrum, upset, argument, is over. Suddenly the sun shines again, everyone is friends, love takes the place of anger, and kindness becomes the touchstone of openness to self and others.
I am still going to keep a list of kind things I have done and that others have done to me, but only for this exercise, so that I can reveal what is kindness and how I have experienced it. Ultimately it is not for us to keep score regarding kindness, but just to live with it presently on a day-to-day basis, being kind and loving just because it is in us and natural, not because of obligation or keeping score.