Kindness and Mindfulness

It Starts With One

If I am kind to myself, will I also have the capacity for kindness to others?
Is it OK to be kind to myself?

I write this blog, the August morning sun is shining brightly. The dawn is cool and crisp as I sit in my study looking out on our garden. It is a good moment. Typically, I might take a quick glance and move on to my work. But today I do not. I sit quietly, notice my surroundings, and my breath. Yes, I have much to do. But for now, I am here.

During this month, I am participating in a month long project of mindfulness meditation and contemplative practice. It is the third day of the project during which I have committed to practice meditation for twenty minutes five days per week. The project offers instruction and discussion along the path toward creating a conscious intention to show up and practice.

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My teacher, Sheila Peltz Weinberg, offers two key concepts – intention and returning. For each meditation, we set an intention, for example, to focus on the in-breath and the out-breath. She explains that it is natural that the mind wanders. Optimally, we simply notice the meandering and bring ourselves back to return to the breath. This happens over and over as we develop our attention skills.

We commit to doing something. Then we forget.
Do we return to it, or do we go on to the next text message, phone call, or task?

And this brings us to kindness.

It’s easy in mindfulness meditation and in the rest of life to become frustrated. Easy to get annoyed for struggling with something that seems so elementary.

If I could become irritated, or I could share kindness with myself. “I am good enough. I’m doing the best I can. Let’s try this again.”

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Sharon Salzburg, well-known meditation teacher and author, writes: “A commitment to kindness can be the thread that twines throughout our various successes, disappointments, delights, and traumas, making our lives seamless, giving us ballast in a world of change, a reservoir of heartfulness to infuse our choices, our relationships, and our reactions.” (Salzburg, 2010, p.3)

Being kind to ourselves is not just OK. It can be positively life changing. Kindness toward ourselves enhances our health, our biology, our well-being. Kindness connects us to people around us. When we are kind to ourselves and to others, we are more able to contribute throughout our lives and communities.

Let’s remember to breathe.

Let’s offer kindness to ourselves.

Let’s offer kindness to others – at home, at work, in the community, in the world.

It Starts With One.

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In light and empowerment,
Ilene

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