“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
– HH The Dalai Lama
There are spiritual traditions that tell us that kindness is a part of our human nature. According to science, kindness shows up naturally when people feel safe and well; and when people don’t feel safe, self-protective behaviors might arise instead.
We might notice this in ourselves. If we start the day in a bad mood, we are much more prone to feeling critical and behaving unfriendly towards ourselves and others. Whereas if a day starts with feelings of warm connection and ease, we might feel so much more ready to follow up with similar responses and connections. Even if someone jumps in front of us in the car, we might be able to balance that quickly and feel okay.
The power and the truth
If we feel loved and well-connected with friendly people and in close relationships, then resilience is much more available for us if something difficult comes our way. There is a lot of research done about these things lately. Unfortunately, there are many among us who have grown up in difficult environments and who learned mistrust, self-defense and self-protection very early.
We might have developed a tendency to expect good treatment from others first, before we become kind ourselves. But there is always the possibility of starting the trend ourselves. And acting out of kindness feels good in itself.
As I’ve look into this topic recently, loving kindness has felt like a movement I’d like to be part of. We can join the huge community of all those who believe in the power of these beautiful energies. This knowledge can help even if we are facing harsh responses.
Trusting and giving first
For me the knowledge that love and kindness are natural expressions of our human nature is crucial. Kindness does not need to be developed; it’s there underneath, waiting. I learned this first in my Buddhist practice, and science has now joined the movement. And this knowledge, however you gain it, is the doorway into trusting and giving first. Truly recognizing that it feels good for myself and others when we come from that place allows me to stay friendly in the face of challenges. Doing so, I have experienced surprisingly positive changes in situations that looked scary and desperate at first.
If we come from a mind that wishes something like:
May I be well and be kind to myself.
May I be safe and accept what is.
May I be at ease and accept myself as I am.
May I be loved and give myself all the compassion and care I need.
Then it is so much easier to feel:
May you be well and be kind to yourself.
May you be safe and accept what is.
May you be at ease and accept yourself as you are.
May you be loved and give yourself all the compassion and care you need.
Here is a beautifully effective little exercise:
– Place your hand on your heart.
– Breathe a little slower and deeper into your heart center, reminding yourself of the peace and safety that can be found in this moment.
– Remember a safe moment with another being that you have experienced in your life (whether a saint, a friend, or a pet).
– Enjoy this exercise for some moments and deepen the experience.
Don’t forget to deepen! Otherwise it’s like eating and running. ☺
I wish a week for all of you in which you will experience loving kindness in many forms along your way.