Mindfulness Monday – Kindness

water scene2“Three things in human life are important:

the first is to be kind;

the second is to be kind;

and the third is to be kind.”

~ Henry James

 

What does it mean to be kind?  Often kindness is confused with compassion, but there is a difference.  Kindness is simply being friendly to a person whether they are suffering of not.  Compassion is reaching out to someone who is suffering. 

When I read Toni Bernhard’s book, How to Wake Up, (and later an article she wrote about kindness) I was touched by what she calls “friendliness practice”.

She describes it like this, “As I turn the front doorknob to leave my house, I consciously resolve to maintain an attitude of friendliness toward all the strangers I see…If I’m waiting in line, I look at each person around me and silently say to each one: ‘May you enjoy this day’; or ‘I hope you have fun today.’”

I have tried to do this practice and have found that it lifts my heart, simply sending loving kindness to those around me fills me with joy.  

I find it so fulfilling to see the joy on a stranger’s face when I am nice to them, whether it’s a complement or simply saying having a small conversation, kindness can make your day so much more joyful.

However, there are times when I find myself automatically judging people I don’t even know.  For example, recently we were riding in a “questionable” part of town and were suddenly stuck because someone pulled out in front of everyone, just to go from one convenience store to another on the opposite side of the street.  The man was driving a new Cadillac that was all tricked out, and when he smiled you could see gold teeth.  We both automatically thought, drug dealer. We knew nothing about this man except what we saw on the outside, yet we found ourselves judging him.  This is something most of us do, and I’m sure I’ll do it again, but I’m trying to be kinder.  When I find myself having these judgments I’m trying to follow Toni’s example and silently say something kind to this person anyway.  Just as Toni said, I found that this action normally stops the judgment…but sometimes it doesn’t, it’s at those times I need to be kind to myself and continue to try my best.

 

“Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.” ~ Samuel Johnson

 

I’m certain that no one is fond of everyone, but being kind to someone doesn’t mean we have to like the person.  In this day of political tensions, prejudice, racism….I know I have never been surrounded by so much hate.  The Buddha taught, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, only by non-hatred.”  We can “not hate” someone without liking them.  When you don’t hate it’s much easier to be kind.

It has pained me to find out that some of my ‘friends’ have such differing views than I have, many of these views are, in my opinion, unethical and morally wrong.  Because of the extreme differences in our views, and often the venom that I hear spoken by others voicing their opinions, I’m finding that I don’t really like many of these people any more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be kind to them.  I try to find what we have in common, I think we all want to be happy and to stop suffering, when I look at someone in that light, I find it much easier to be kind.  I don’t have to agree with someone to be kind.  That doesn’t mean I’m okay with their views, it means I can be nice to them, that’s a lot more than I sometimes think I can do, but let’s face it, being kind to someone feels a whole lot better than hating them, hatred makes me feel really bad.

 

That brings me to this quote:

 “Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” ~ Eric Hoffer

The more often you are kind, the more natural it will become.  Kindness becomes a habit and it grows within you, by being kind to others, you are in turn, kind to yourself. 

 

** I hope you enjoyed this different take on Mindfulness Monday, be sure to remember to be kind to yourself.

I highly recommend Toni Bernard’s books, especially “How To Be Sick; A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers”.  This book changed literally my life, and I refer back to it over and over.  If you, or someone you know, is dealing with chronic illness, do yourself a favor and check this book out.  (This is completely my opinion, no one asked me to post this, and I’m not being compensated for it.  I simply love this book.)

 

(image created by Wendy Holcombe using Autodesk Sketchbook, please to not use without permission)

 

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Mindfulness Monday – Family (Ohana)

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“I don’t care whose DNA had

recombined with whose.

When everything goes to hell,

the people who stand by you

without flinching-

They are your family.”

~Jim Butcher

 

“That’s what people do who love you.

They put their arms around you

and love you when you’re

not so lovable.”

~Deb Caletti

 

“You must remember,

family is often born of blood,

but it doesn’t depend on blood.

Nor is it exclusive of friendship.

Family members can be your best friends, you know.

And best friends, whether or not they are related to you,

Can be your family.”

~Trenton Lee Stewart

 

*photo taken at Wendy and Stuart’s wedding (I’m the one in yellow)

Thank you to all who are members of my Ohana.  I love you.  ( Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.’)

“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” ~Lilo and Stitch

family-1

Just because they are gone, doesn’t mean they will ever be forgotten.  Pets are Ohana too.

Meaningful Monday – Suffering

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,

and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.

I have been bent and broken, but

—I hope—

Into a better shape.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“There is the solitude of suffering,

when you go through darkness that is

lonely, intense, and terrible.

Words become powerless to express your pain;

what others hear from your words is

so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

We must look deeply in order to understand

the needs, aspirations, and suffering

of the person we love.

This is the ground of real love”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

*photo by W. Holcombe.  Baby Opuntia (prickly pear) Cactus.  Please do not use without permission.

I did things a little differently this week, the not all of the quotes would be considered “mindful”, but I felt they were more meaningful this week.

 

 

Mindfulness Monday: to be in the moment*

“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.”

Victoria Moran

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

Mother Teresa

“Welcome to the present moment. Here. Now. The only moment there ever is.”

Eckhart Tolle

* Wendy is settling into her new life in Tucson and asked me to fill in for her today. When she gets the chance, she’ll post about her adventures.

This week, I’m returning to the simple principal of mindfulness (as Wendy has taught me): be in the moment.

© Lorraine (detail of tile mosaic, Natural History Museum subway station, NYC)

Mindfulness Monday – Travel

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“Everything I was I carry with me.

Everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.”

~ Majian

 

“Wherever you go

There you are”

~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

“We travel,

Some of us forever,

To seek other states,

Other lives, other souls.”

~ Anais Nin

 

 

* Photos are from the road traveling from North Carolina to Arizona, We aren’t there yet, we’re in New Mexico should be in Tucson this afternoon.

Safe travels.

Mindfulness Monday – Pain

water scene

painting by W. Holcombe 

“Pain can change you,

but that doesn’t mean

it has to be a bad change.

Take that pain and

turn it into wisdom.

~Dalai Lama

“To diminish the suffering of pain,

We need to make a crucial distinction

Between pain of pain,

And the pain we create

By our thoughts about the pain.

Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness

Are all mental and emotional responses

That can intensify pain.”

~Howard Cutler

“Pain is not wrong.

reacting to pain as wrong initiates

the trance of unworthiness.

The moment we believe something is wrong,

our world shrinks and

we lose ourselves in the effort

to combat the pain.”

~Tara Brach

 

 

*painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.

Mindfulness Monday – Eckhart Tolle

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“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior.

You are beneath the thinker.

You are the stillness beneath the mental noise.

You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

 

“In today’s rush,

we all think too much-

seek too much-

want too much-

and forget about the joy

of just being.”

~Eckhart Tolle

 

“The ultimate truth of

who you are is not

I am this or

I am that, but

I AM”

~Eckhart Tolle

 

 

*image by and of W. Holcombe.  do not use without permission