As some of you know ( I’ve been blabbing about it!) I have spent the week end in the company of Sharon Salzberg and other wonderful teachers from the Garrison Institute on a Mindfulness and Compassion retreat. I have been learning about how to manage stress with kindness, and in particular self compassion from Sharon for many years, so it was apt to be learning from her again on World Kindness Day.
Long before neuroscience and neuroplacticity caught up, Sharon invited us to notice how the energy of kindness helps us to manage stress. As we manage our stress with kindness we begin to realise that it both brings us home to ourselves, and strengthens our connection to others. We now have so much evidence that the energy of kindness binds us together. Kindness is an energy that connects, heals and protects us. Kindness is also the healing warmth and light that allows us to come home to ourselves, to connect with our own inner peace and calm no matter what the external circumstances of our lives. This last couple of years has been very traumatic and challenging, and many of us are carrying heavy loads which sometimes we do not even allow ourselves to notice.
Sharon’s key insight that ‘ Compassion includes compassion for yourself as well as compassion for others’ which has long been at the heart of my own work is uppermost in my mind now as I wonder how kindness can help us to strengthen our wellbeing and experience joy in the weeks and months ahead. .Kindness softens sorrow. It helps us to respond with compassion not only towards others, but also to ourselves as we experience our own challenges, failures and sorrows.
Naomi Shihab Nye – 1952-
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
So my wish for you, for me, for all of us today is that we may know kindness, be touched by it, and include ourselves in our living from this energy everyday.
I hope you will also consider joining me and others in this community for this day of pausing ( promise no teaching just lovely gentle practices to support us). Coming together in this way we draw on the strength of others as we also support others.
I am so excited to be offering this At Home Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Retreat on Saturday Nov 27th. This is one of my core retreats – a gentle, relaxing, restorative day. I really hope you will consider gifting yourself this time and joining me as we create a space to relax, decompress, and come home to the peace that is inside each one of us. Read more and book your place here.
I would love to hear from you please do drop me a line with your thoughts, responses, questions. You can reach me here – [email protected]