"Mindfulness is holding the experience. Kindfulness is holding the experiencer" - Kristina Neff
In our community of mindfulness based professionals, we've been talking a lot about how to be more "mindful" in difficult times.
I'm a big fan of mindfulness, too.But what's going to save us is #kindfulness.
Kindness writ large — without buckets or boundaries — without distinctions or difference.
Without fingers pointed or arms extended in any position outside of a heroic hug (from an internet arms length away) It's not always easy. And I certainly don't have all the answers.
There are infinite opportunities to be outraged.
Lots of folks who deserve our disdain.
Lots of people who history will judge badly.
But when I focus on these people and the tsunami of suffering and the fire hose of fates their poor choices have foisted on us all — I'm worse for the wear.
I'm not sanitizing what matters most in a crisis.
My mental health.
And my safety, from the machinations of a monkey mind eager to demonize and catastrophize — always willing to find another banana to chew and spew.......it suffers as well.
The practice of Metta, loving kindness that extends without borders or boundaries, is what always saves me.
It is the one thing that captures what I believe to be the core truth about life. We always get to choose.
It's the one freedom you'll never lose.
And that loving ones neighbors — one's adversaries and even ones enemies as oneself — this is the sort of mindfulness that actually improves the moment to moment experience of what it feels like to be me.
Bring to mind a difficult person, maybe even someone in the news right now.
Now picture them on the best day of their life. Or in their very best moment, during that one excellent, really generous, really giving day.
See them smile. See them radiate kindness, calmness and innocence — even for a moment. If that doesn't work?
Try it for the first day of their life. Or on the last day of their life. Seen through the tabula rasa that birth and death can both bring — I find my anger and outrage evaporate.
Only the shared humanity, and the great mystery of our experience remains And for myself, the same rings true. If you are like me, and reserve the harshest judgements for yourself — the same practice applies.
When self judgement and the inner critic arises and appears, I bring to mind a picture of myself from when i was 3 to 4 — with a smile so pure, loving, generous, kind and innocent that it doesn't even feel like me.
Or, I see my future self, hopefully a long time from these hazy, crazy and dubious days, drawing my final breaths. I see that child like self with the bowl haircut and the beatific innocence, or that future self, worn and weary - and tell him that I'm always here.
I got you.
And it's going to be okay.
Only an endless ocean of love, care and compassion remains.
And more than ever before, that's what matters most.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." — Dali Lama