The Kindness Factor

Posted By on May 19, 2013

Does the suggestion or prospect of engaging with kindness make your knees wobble or your stomach fall into a bottomless pit?  If so, I say “good”.  It means you are on the cusp of taking this quality to an experiential level – moving it from the head into the heart, into a full felt body experience.

Kindness and compassion are ways of being that work with any moment of a difficult emotion.  You can observe for yourself how they help to shift from an unwholesome state to a wholesome state.  For example, when our mindfulness capacity is sufficiently developed we are more attuned to our inclination to act, speak or think in patterns of criticism, impatience, fault-finding, or any unwholesome conditioning.

More than likely we have accused someone else or ourselves for some unacceptable behavior.  If we tend to think the person or situation outside of us is the culprit causing our yucky feelings, that is the meditation bell ringing to bring us back to our own feelings.  That is a moment to practice kindness for ourselves.  There does not need to be any further thought about the other person’s right action or wrong action.  The focus is a laser beam pointing us back to the mind state—the wound—we have in that moment that is waiting for the medicine of kindness to be applied.

Yes, we inflict wounds on ourselves each time we judge ourselves for not being better, wiser, more patient, etc.  For those moments when the self-critical words arise, pause and feel how the heart has been pierced by our own judging thoughts.  When you really feel the pain of that self-inflicted wound, you will naturally fall into a state of kindness.

But it’s not necessary to wait for dramatic situations to arise in order to invoke kindness for ourselves.  Right now, stop whatever you are doing and take a few breaths—pausing the busy “doing” self and let yourself “be”.  Feel how those moments of disengaging from activity are moments of kindness.  Rest in kindness many moments this day.  Knowing kindness for ourselves increases the likelihood of bringing it to others.  You are increasing the kindness factor in the world by many increments with this practice.

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