Super Soul Saturday: A Day Of Kindness
Posted by Krishan Patel on Oct 25, 2015
"There’s no shop that sells kindness; you must build it within. You can transplant hearts, but you cannot transplant a warm heart." --Dalai Lama
A day filled with kindness. A day focused on kindness. A day where individuals co-created an intentional space on kindness. At first glance, kindness may seem “light” compared to vulnerability, forgiveness, resilience (sister themes of previous retreats). But, in the lightness, the group held space to sit with kindness.
We began the day with one hour of mediation. The first hour of mediation could serve many purposes to each individual: On this day, it seemed to serve to slow the waves of our thoughts, so we could each more easily feel what was going on beneath the surface. Nina, read “Force of Kindness” by Sharon Salzburg, with focused intention that supported each of us in tapping deeper into the realm of kindness.
Opening Meditation and Circle of Sharing:
Ashish shared a story about his realization as a young boy that his parents were going to die. With the realization of the fragility of life, Ashish was overwhelmed with tears and sadness. His parents took him to the doctors for help, and, of course, the doctors confirmed Ashish’s worst fears. And then his parents, figured out a solution, they would do a ceremony and tie a thread around his wrist. They told Ashish, if the thread is open after he slept that night, then everything would be okay. Upon waking, Ashish ran to his parents room to show them that the thread was open.
From that point forward, Ashish was no longer afraid. 30 years later Ashish’s father shared that he cut the thread in the night. Ashish saw and felt the gentle kindness of a father serving his son in a gentle way.
Perhaps, this is what Sharon Salzburg meant when she said, “Many of us long for an underlying sense of meaning, something we can still believe in no matter what happens to us, a navigational force to pull all the disparate pieces of our lives together into some kind of whole.”
Michael, a musician and piano teacher in Princeton, shared about his continual practice of holding a space of kindness with his own thoughts. “To explore kindness as that thread of meaning requires finding out if we can be strong and still be kind, be smart and still be kind, whether we can be profoundly kind to ourselves and at the same time strongly dedicated to kindness for those around us.” ~ Sharon Salzberg
A Space for Deeper Connection:
Already warmed and moved by the power of vulnerability underlying our shares about kindness, we broke into five groups for more intimate dialogue. Building on Franc’s dissection of the word and spotlight on “kin” -- the bond and shared experience that comes from family - we explored both the conditions for kindness and grounded further by drawing contrast.
Themes emerged around the importance of connectedness, support and self-care as fuel for kindness and how repeated acts of kindness build consistency to strengthen and grow our “kindness muscle.”
Sarika reminded us that while it takes time and inner work, there is just as much kindness in wholeheartedly accepting an apology as there is in making one. Jenna pointed to self-love as the source that forms a causal link: if we practice kindness to ourselves then it becomes easier to be kind and generous to others and vice versa. Eventually there is no distinction!
In this sense, kindness becomes a mirror and a bridge to see ourselves in others and them in us. While several of us shared first hand accounts of experiences where our kindness was rejected and were put off/hurt as a result, the question of authenticity arose. How many of these cases were genuine acts of kindness - ones in which we truly expected nothing in return? We were left wondering if, situational misunderstandings aside, truly authentic kindness could ever really be refused?
A Silent and Mindful Walk:
The walking meditation supported each of us in embodiment and kindness to our bodies. Some wonderful insights were shared after this meditation in motion. For example, some people shared how when they were walking barefoot, they tended to walk slower and how they became aware of the various temperatures of the grass. Others reflected on how being in a group and walking helped them feel safe and they were really able to walk without fear or with a sense of security.
Walking as a group was a reminder that we can proceed with strength and dignity even in times of fear and uncertainty. It was beautiful to experience the warmth of the sun, the softness of the grass, and even to hear dogs barking. It all came together as we walked mindfully.
A Final Time to Sit:
After a day of sitting, delicious food, mindful walking, we gathered for one final sit to anchor our intentions from the day. Sitting for an hour when you are tired is never easy, but together it is easier.
The group shared a deep sense of gratitude for the space, and their intentions moving forward. Some felt deeply resonated with being kinder with their thoughts, others choose to simply smile more on the New York City subways.
But perhaps, the day can best be summarized by the beauty and lightness of kindness shared from Anha, Ashish’s daughter: Anha shared how one evening she was feeling very frustrated with her Pre-Algebra homework, so she kicked a basketball that was near her foot. The basketball hit her kind and gentle dog, Edsel, directly in the head. Edsel simply got up and moved away. Anha felt so horrible for hurting her dog that she began crying into her hands, and moments later Edsel came and put his head on her shoulder to comfort her.
The story of Edsel was a poignant moment for each us. How can we each embody, build and live kindness in our everyday life? How can we live this in spite of the ups and downs and uncertainty? We each left more attuned and inspired to continue planting seeds of kindness.
Attendees of the ServiceSpace Super Soul Saturday
October 2015, Princeton, NJ