"Do you remember the last time we met? You had given me a Smile Deck and told me about your friend's 30-day kindness challenge
?" Oh, yes. "Well, I took the challenge that very day. It has been ... has been ... it has been an unbelievable experience," this woman in her 40s excitedly tells me and a few others sitting on a bench together.
"I started out wanting to be kind, but it felt like kindness came looking for me. Just the day after I started, I got a phone call from our driver that someone had rear-ended our car badly. But the lady was someone we knew. I thought, 'Ok, let me practice kindness and not ask her for anything.' Our driver just didn't understand, why I wouldn't want to collect any money.
"The next day, though, that woman messages me with an attitude as if it wasn't her fault. Sometimes when we're forgiving, people take advantage like that. Not only that, the following day, she makes up her own story -- and tells my driver that the car was old so it didn't matter. In my mind, I was thinking, 'If your parents are old, does it mean that I can hit them?' but I refrained, and chose to forgive again.
Then, I went to a local Awakin
. Bangalore now has 4-5 of these gatherings, and I love going, so I went. After an hour of meditation, I open my eyes and what do I see? That woman was right in front of me. It was a true test of my forgiveness. And I failed. I felt like making at least one sly remark, but then I thought that if I had truly forgiven, I wouldn't have any thoughts -- and perhaps might even hug her. All kinds of sensations went through my body, but I resisted the urge to say anything. We spoke politely and amicably.
The next morning, I was still thinking about it, so I figured my act of kindness is not yet complete. If I am to truly forgive, I should be generous to her. So I took some dessert, walked to her house, and gave her dessert. It may sound like a simple thing, but it was incredibly difficult. But I did it. We had a great conversation, I wished her well, and it was an amazing experience."
We all paused for a reflective moment, before she continued.
"Alongside this episode, another kind act came looking for me. There was a woman who I hadn't spoken to for a great many years, because she had once ruined a birthday surprise party that I was throwing. In retrospect, it was a silly thing but once we get caught in this cycle, its hard to let it go. I couldn't let it go. But then, I went to a house concert, and guess who ends up sitting next to me? Yup, that same woman. I was going to change seats, even contemplated leaving, but then I thought about my kindness challenge. Why could I just not let it go, and be kind to both of us?
So I did it. I gently tapped her hand and said, 'I just want you to know that you're a wonderful person. Can I give you a hug?' We hugged, and she just completely broke down in tears -- as did I.
"This kindness thing is really changing me. I can feel the shift inside me. And that is drawing very different things to me. Maybe these things always existed but it's only now that I'm seeing them. I don't know. Like the other day, I walked into a friend that I had been meaning to thank for the last 32 years. I had heard he was in trouble, so we chatted about positive things and generosity -- and at the end he was in tears and told me that he was contemplating suicide that day!
"I'm also just on the lookout more. A Smile Card pays its returns even if you don't use it
but just are holding it in your consciousness. You remember our friend who shared during that Awakin circle about how she was riding a bicycle downhill, had a head-on collision with a motorbike, was completely immobile for a while and while receiving all this help from others, she had a momentary thought that perhaps it would be best if her life ended right now. You remember?" Yes, of course. "Well, when I found out that she lives near me, I decided to make her some fresh, organic juice and deliver it to her everyday!
Then, during one of those conversations, she tells me about the Giftivism retreat happening this week -- and I decided to come. As we give, it opens up new doors for us and life just cannot be same again. I can now clearly see the power of inner transformation. And here I am! All because of a kindness challenge."