The essential ingredient in kindness is that it doesn’t want anything for being kind. It doesn’t have a self image to uphold. It is not doing a kind thing to get a certain reaction or certain feedback. The reason it feels kind is because it’s a total gift. So, one of the best ways to begin to experience kindness is to begin understanding it’s something about being kind toward yourself. Kindness toward oneself does not mean taking yourself shopping. What it means is beginning to release your judgments of yourself, of whatever situation you find yourself in.
If you were in need of kindness at some particular point, or didn’t even know you were, sometimes, once in a while, someone will do something that is just completely unexpected. In line at the grocery store you find that you have some bananas or something, and a person paid for it. It’s just a kind thing that they did. You don’t even know the reason why.
Kindness is essentially an opening of the heart. And if we allow ourselves those moments of kindness to ourselves, meaning that, for instance … I’ll try to pick something that we have all experienced. “Wow, what I just did was so stupid. Really stupid. A really dumb thing.” Kindness to that is almost like holding it in your hands, like a little baby… the little baby, the stupid thing you just did, and being able to see it as, “Oh—that’s a human thing. Humans do that. There is nothing different about it.” Releasing your judgment of it—that is a kindness. You begin to be kind to yourself in ways that are not a self-improvement strategy… it’s not anything. It’s just beginning to be kind.
That kindness begins to flow out. It just comes out. You see someone else, and you can tell that, from whatever it is that evokes the kindness in you, you can give it out. It’s flowing from something that is already there within you. Otherwise, what is meant to be kind will come out with some kind of agenda. We have all experienced that. But the qualifying parentheses to kindness is, there is no agenda for it. Random acts of kindness, right? It just arises.
One of the precursors to kindness is beginning to have an inner awareness that the judgments that we put on things that arise, we actually have no way of knowing whether those judgments have anything to do with what is happening—that it is actually none of our business. And related to ourselves as well: we are trained to be so task oriented, and [for example] to truly believe that somehow if we got in the car too late, and we’re getting somewhere where we are supposed to be on time and we’re not; we’re going to be late—that somehow that says something about anything other than the fact that we just got in the car too late. How can we sit as judge and jury of things that are coming up and happening that are human things? We don’t know. It’s kind of going back to a way that we were when we were very young, where we could more easily understand that we don’t know; there’s just a whole lot of things that we don’t know.
The barrier to kindness is essentially the need for each human to defend themselves, feeling that they have something to defend.
This post is an audio transcription of a meditation Laurie did at one of her Deep Wisdom Listening retreats in June 2017. To listen, simply click the white ‘Play’ icon in the video below, or visit Laurie’s YouTube channel, here.