The concept of kindness only really entered my world when I was in my mid 30’s. It was almost an alien concept something that had eluded me for years and was outside of my lived experience. I once mentioned to my therapist that what she had done for me was very kind, and her reaction really shook something inside me. She said, “that’s a word you don’t usually use, was that difficult?”. She was spot on, but it hurt. I was not consciously kind to myself and perhaps only occasionally kind to others. Being kind was something that I vaguely knew how to ‘do’ but certainly not how I was. I was just doing and surviving life and kindness just wasn’t on my radar. I set about changing my relationship with kindness. I started to see people in a different light and stopping and actually seeing them was revolutionary.
Slowly I started to look at being kind to myself and this was a huge challenge. I started to see myself as a human with all my faults and all my potential for change and growth. I often hear clients beating themselves up for not doing something in a certain way, for missing something or not being super productive. I often feel a touch of sadness when they do not feel that they deserve the same compassion and kindness that they offer to others. For some of us where kindness was absent perhaps due to abusive families, relationships or hardship, the good news is that we can play catch up. The start of my journey with kindness, and one that I’d like to share with you, was being introduced to the Loving Kindness meditation (Mett) at a yoga class.
This is something that takes patience and practice, but it will reward you well as it slowly seeps into your heart, mind and soul and can become a superpower for emotional well-being and transformation. The meditation starts with the heart intention of loving kindness and practicing this can deepen our experience and understanding of life, love and joy.
There are many different versions and you can change the wording until it feels just right for you. It may change or even transform how you feel about people in your life.
Find a quiet and comfortable space. You may want to close your eyes or lower your gaze.
- Start by bringing your attention to yourself and repeat these words three times either in silence or aloud if you are in an empty space
May I be safe and protected, may I be peaceful and happy, may I live at ease and with kindness
- Next try to think of someone you love and repeat the words
May you be safe and protected, may you be peaceful and happy, may you live at ease and with kindness
- Finally expand the practice to include people we hardly know or who may have caused us issues in our lives, pain or hurt
May all beings be safe and protected, may all beings be peaceful and happy, may all beings live at ease and with kindness
Further reading on meditation:
- Full Catastrophe living, Jon Kabat-Zin
- Wherever you go, there you are, Mindfulness Meditations for Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh
- Mindfulness for Compassionate Living, Mindful ways to less stress and more kindness, Dr Patrizia Collard
- Self-care for the real world. Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips