Spontaneous Acts Of Kindness In London With My

Posted by Trishna Shah on Nov 17, 2015
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A couple of weeks ago, while Nimo was in town here in London, a few of us got together to open up our hearts to share love, smiles, hugs and pay-it-forward treats to passersby on the Golden Jubilee Bridge overlooking the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye and the beautiful River Thames! I was especially grateful to everyone who had come along for so warmly welcoming Sareena to the kindness party and making her feel supported as she went way out of her comfort zone to interact with perfect strangers to offer her love :)  Here are some photos from our evening together to help you visualise our heart-filling evening together :)

For me, even though I've done this kind of thing before, it was so special to do it together with my 4-year-old daughter Sareena for the first time and watch her go through a beautiful transformation over the course of the evening under the stars.  She started out a little confused at why it seemed the rest of us "had friends there" and she didn't, until I explained to her that we were smiling away, giving free hugs and saying hello to perfect strangers :)  After watching everyone for a little while, she started to build up the courage to try to offer chocolates and flowers to passersby, often being rejected and feeling even more confused at how anyone could possibly turn down chocolate! :)  And then, about half-way through, she was getting warmed up and wanted to hold up her own sign while offering smiles, giving hi-5's, and even giving out free hugs to most of the children who crossed the bridge. 

At a personal level for me, it was a magical hour of being fully present and opening our hearts to everyone passing by, to share the love and kindness we were cultivating with others, and what a gift it was to do this together in the company of noble friends! In a conversation with Uncle Nimo (as Sareena endearingly refers to Nimo) and I on our way back home, here's how Sareena summed up her experience (which probably is true for many of us as well the first time we did something like this) :)

"The first half was a medium thumbs-up because I was a little scared and nobody wanted the chocolate I was giving them, and the second half was a big thumbs up (imagine little girl with huge beaming smile and screaming this with enthusiasm!) :) because I wasn't scared anymore and started to smile and share hugs with people and they shared their smiles with me when they saw me smile at them. Mommy, the more you give the more you get right?" Indeed, this is so true :)

Others who joined in also shared lovely reflections about their experiences:

"I decided to offer free hugs in the end in memory of my friend... I felt vulnerable opening my arms to complete strangers it was difficult to do, I pushed myself to do it although it felt uncomfortable. There was a lot of rejection and there was also openness to the experience. I was aware that if I was on the other side I to would react with unease and maybe not hug a random person. All sorts of biases and judgments were coming up for me in terms of who to hug and not to hug, I tried to be as open as I could be to be inclusive of all and put myself out there.  What I found was, the more I did it the easier I found to keep doing it. Although it is intense and exhausting to have the energy to hug people for an hour. I realised that I needed to be in an upbeat state to give good energy to others, I thanked everyone that hugged me and they thanked me as well. I noticed the missing human connection that we all need. Hugging is an art difficult to match like a handshake. I got some great hugs and felt very alive and energised in the experience."
"I spent a lot of the evening distracted from my work day and the prospect of continuing working later. Seeing the number of people who stopped to chat or just smiled and received hugs was uplifting and eventually I stopped clock watching and tried to be more present.  I was struck by the persistence of the huggers and Sareena's enthusiasm was so infectious! I noticed I was smiling almost constantly and although a few people walked by almost unaffected I realised it didn't really matter. I could do this for me and if it improves anyones day then that's a bonus. I've since added kindness reminders to my day to reinforce the idea."

Most of us were so refreshed from this experience that we want to continue organising these spontaneous acts of kindness events going forward every month or two to cultivate this deeper sense of unconditionally kindness in our own hearts.  As always, so grateful to the ServiceSpace ecosystem for planting seeds and inspiring even the littlest people in our community to practice kindness :)


Posted by Trishna Shah | | permalink

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