Concern and Consideration
Kindness when felt or received is appreciated by everyone who experiences it. To offer kindness is to extend a hand of friendship, to offer concern and consideration toward others as well as ourselves. It is said that a little kindness goes a long way. Perhaps that is because kindness touches the heart. And our response is generally one of gratitude and appreciation. It awakens feelings of appreciation affirming our existence. Observing or experiencing an act of kindness always brings a smile which extends to our heart.
Studies on Kindness
Studies in recent years have shown kindness as a key factor in improving interpersonal relationships, improving mood and even in developing greater resilience.Think about your dearest friends for a moment. Is one of their qualities thoughtfulness, kindness and caring? Studies have also shown that receiving, giving, or even witnessing acts of kindness increases our immunity and the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood in the brain.
Let’s face it seeing, giving or experiencing kindness offers a feel good factor.
Practicing self-kindness is the opposite to self-criticism and harsh self-judgement. Offering kindness seems to come more naturally after we’ve experienced pain, hardship or sorrow ourselves; beautifully expressed here in a quote by the poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.” Naomi Shihab Nye
From Suffering Compassion is Born
I myself suffered a period of self-blame and self-criticism associated with grieving the loss of my brother and son to suicide. I share more about this in my book Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude.
A major part of my healing process was forgiveness, self-compassion and self-kindness. From this awakened a deeper natural compassion towards others who suffer. I understand how challenging life can be when we believe our untrue critical or painful thoughts.
Mindfulness teaches us to realise we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are generated from patterns taken on from conception. Many of these patterned beliefs start with ‘I should’ or ‘I must’ or ‘why didn’t I’or ‘I am or responsible for the actions of others’; none of which are true.
Too often we push ourselves hard, set unrealistic goals, our inner critic is overactive judging ourselves harshly when we don’t meet these unrealistic expectations. If bad or sad things happen we often blame ourselves when it is not at all our or anyone’s fault. It is simply a happening.
Put simply we are too often unkind toward ourselves. We forget how important a simple act of kindness can be. Without mindful awareness without judgement of our thinking mind the dinosaur reactive brain takes over leaving us in a critical and often reactive state, cut off from our hearts intelligence and wisdom.
As we slow down and become more mindfully present with life we become more conscious of our feelings in general. Our intuitive wisdom has a chance to be heard, often through bodily feelings and inner promptings. We begin to appreciate small gestures of kindness from others and we are more likely to offer kindness toward others.
Experiencing kindness can boost our day, help us and others to feel validated. Observing or receiving an act of simple kindness puts a smile on our face. It restores our faith in humanity.
“When we practice loving kindness and compassion we are the first ones to profit.” Rumi
The deepest relationship we have in life is with our self. If we practice loving self-kindness with self-care ourselves, we are exemplifying a higher more conscious way to live to others. Being that our nearest and dearest unconsciously pattern their behaviour on ours and mirror it back to us; living by example is a powerful way to transform our life. We then find others effortlessly reflecting a higher state of consciousness as kindness back to us. They are given space to relax and thus become more present with their own hearts wisdom.
Reactive and defensive behaviour lessens when we feel safe and accepted as we are. Kindness as a positive mirroring behaviour is definitely a win-win for everyone.
“Be the Change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi
I invite you to pause a moment here and contemplate the following questions:
- “How mindfully do I listen to and provide for my own needs?
- “Do I listen and follow my intuition or inner guidance with self-compassion and self-kindness?
- “Do I take opportunities to offer a random act of kindness toward others?
- And if so how does that make me feel?
If we are practicing loving kindness toward ourselves, kindness will naturally flow out to all others in our life. The presence of consciousness or awareness will expand spatially taking in the needs of all others around us. Perhaps there would be more harmony in the world generally. Put simply kindness begets kindness.
“Do unto others what you would wish them to do to you”
On the other hand, if we are ignoring our own needs and inner guidance we are generally unaware of the needs of others. And so, often miss opportunities to connect with friends, family or even strangers with kindness.
The good news is, becoming aware of this is the beginning of positive change.
Through applied mindfulness we become attuned to the greater one-field of consciousness where the individual-separate-self melts into the one field expressing as the many. Kindness becomes a natural consequence when in the presence of love or oneness.
after all in the words of Rumi…
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”