Imagine kindness spreading across a room, a stadium or a city. One person influencing those around him or her until everyone joins in.
So often in our lives, we are pressured to blindly follow what others do. I usually try to resist just going along with how others go along or being swept up by other people’s emotions or ideas. But I would gladly join a bandwagon of kindness.
Kindness is actually a cure for blindness. It wakes us up, so we actually see who we’re standing with and what we’re doing. This is the essence of kindness.
Kindness is the brother of joy, the sister of compassion, the father of insight, and the mother of transformation.
Acting with kindness can be one of the simplest of things to do. It can be like breathing. We breathe every moment. In fact, breathing is one aspect of ourselves that we can never do without. But being aware of our breath can take practice.
Many of us don’t breathe fully and deeply. We don’t realize that when our breath is calm, it is a friend who teaches us to be open and friendly. Or when it gets too rapid, it can dim our vision so we see others as enemies.
Likewise, when we act without kindness, we pay an unbelievable price. Just take a moment to remember what it feels like when we act out of fear, anger, hate, or greed. Or what thoughts or images rage in our mind. Our breath becomes tense and rushed. We erect a wall around ourselves built out of suspicion and muscular tension.
When we act without kindness, we lose one of the best ways to decrease tension, anger, and fear. But when we’re kind to ourselves or others, tension drains from our bodies. The blinders fall away. And we’re left with a clearer light to see by.
We can strengthen the muscles of kindness just like we can strengthen the awareness of how we breathe.
Sit up comfortably, close your eyes partly or fully, and take a deep and easy breath. Simply enjoy breathing in, and then out.
And ask yourself: What images of kindness or kind people do you have? Imagine an act of kindness that you witnessed. It can be dramatic, like one person saving another’s life or taking some large and meaningful action. Or it can be small¾opening a door, lending a hand, or smiling at a stranger.
What does it mean to you to be kind?
What does it feel like when someone is kind to you?
Can you imagine what it feels like when you are kind to someone else? Imagine being kind to someone you know. Who would you like to be kind to? How would you be kind to this person?
Imagine a smile starting with one person, maybe you, and spreading through the room.
And just sit for a moment with the feeling of kindness.
I would gladly join with all the teachers alive today who have talked about the value of kindness. I would join their bandwagon without hesitation. In this time of history, marked by world leaders who try to fracture relationships between diverse communities, sponsor greed, and model hate, I would gladly go along with those who would build relationships among diverse communities, sponsor generosity, and model loving care.
And I have come to realize I breathe more deeply when I see the air itself as a friend. I breathe more deeply when I meet others as fellow human beings needing and desiring to breathe in the world as deeply as I do.