Niki of The Richness of a Simple Life has issued a Kindness Challenge inviting people to focus on kindness for seven weeks. Each week she’ll be offering a prompt and inviting people to work with that focus and then post about it at the end of the week. Do consider joining us – now is always the right time for adding more kindness to the world.
This first week’s focus was: Be kind and gentle with yourself.
Self-care is something I pay a lot of attention to, both for myself, and with my clients. I really believe that self-care is both an act of self-responsibility and an act of love; and for me there is such an air of kindness when we view it this way.I
I have a number of routines set up for myself that feel kind and gentle and supportive. I like to wake up without an alarm, entering wakefulness gently without jarring suddenness. Luckily my natural rhythm is to rise early so I don’t have to worry about sleeping through any early morning appointments. But I use that early morning time to infuse myself with feel-good supportive energy. I meditate, connect with my guides, and set intentions for the day. I have a gentle movement practice. I anoint myself with oils, adorn myself with jewelry, and use flower essences. All those things feel like kindnesses to myself and a gentle path into my day.
But because part of the “assignment” of this kindness challenge is to pay attention, I made a special point to observe the ways I was being kind to myself this week, and see if I could find ways I wasn’t so I might do something about that as well.
As is so often the case, when you focus on something you see it all around you, and that’s what I experienced this week. So much kindness around me; so many opportunities to show it to myself; so many times when just the topic of kindness came up unexpectedly in things I saw or conversations I overheard. How I love those synchroncities!
For example this week I read a kid’s book Horns & Wrinkles. One of the magical premises is that a bully can be turned into a rhinoceros, but the spell can be undone if the bully performs any simple act of kindness.
I practiced self-kindness this week by spending time in my studio; by spending time in my garden and really stopping to smell the flowers; by indulging each day in one delicious piece of flower-essence-infused chocolate. I began anew my practice to be more nurturing to myself by drinking more water; and when I came across a quote from Langston Hughes I’d never seen before: “Let the rain kiss you” – and it just so happened to be raining out, I took myself outside for a walk.
I often listen to Jennifer Berezan’s album In These Arms, A Song for All Beings. The CD has a couple of bonus tracks including a loving-kindness meditation by Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield. But the entire album is really a metta prayer of loving-kindness. It always feels like a kindness to myself when I listen. You can preview it here. For me this is always such a beautiful reminder to hold myself as gently as I wish to hold all other beings.
There are a couple areas where I consistently struggle with self-kindness and so I paid particular attention to those this week – body love and the rather loud internal critic who likes to insist I’m nowhere near productive enough. I’ll be using the next six weeks of this challenge to continue to work to reset those unhelpful and unkind patterns.
What about you? How are you being kind to yourself? Can you make space for more? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
Thanks so much for presenting this challenge for us! I love it. I am listening to Jennifer Berezan as I am writing this. So soothing. I might have to check out the rest of that CD. I sort of forgot about the challenge mid-week. I really need this, though, so I am going to keep at it. Thanks for being an inspiration for all of us!
I find a lot of Jennifer Berezan’s work compelling, so if you don’t know her you might want to check out her other stuff as well. I’m glad you’re participating in the challenge as well. Focusing on kindness enmasse can only be a good thing I think.
It sounds like you found many unexpected moments to be reminded about self kindness. I am very pleased to meet you and go on this journey together.
I’m glad to be on this journey with you as well Bernadette.
How Delightful!!! Your daily practice of self-love/kindness is wonderful. It’s nice to see how when we take time for little things like walking in the rain, it can be so nourishing also. Thank you for sharing the song. I did a meditation while listening to it because I was called to. Nice… thank you for sharing your week with us.
What a perfect example Elda of taking time for the small things that really nourish – like listening to the call to meditate to that song. Nice!
Ha, this is a great post, Deborah! Not only have I been preaching this to a good friend of mine, who is always, always so hard on herself, but since my last child has just graduated from college, more ME time is coming down the pike! It’s been a long time since I was able to focus on ME…and I am looking forward to it! And compassion is leading the way…always! Aloha!
I’m so excited for you Vicki. Wishing you all manner of wonderfulness! And much aloha always.
Thank you Deborah, I think I will join you in this challenge. I rarely have ME time, I’m very kind to others but I never thought to be kind to myself. I think it is time to give some thought to it.
Oh yes Evalina – do join in. It really IS important to balance all that giving and kindness to others with a strong foundation of kindness to yourself!
I just spent a minute thinking… I think there was a time when I loved myself a little more and I was kinder to myself and the whole world appeared to be kinder also. Now, when I’m neglecting myself so often I feel so often neglected by the world. Does that makes any sense?
Absolutely Evalina! And isn’t that wonderful incentive to be kinder to yourself?!
Self care is the most important love we can give, and also the hardest. I have tried morning routines – I don’t use an alarm clock either, usually waking prior to 6A and laying around for awhile. I need to get up and meditate and journal – sure would beat The Today Show.
I’m pretty scrupulous about avoiding morning news. It feels really important to me to set my own energy and start my day without undue outside influence, particularly when the dominant news delivery paradigm seems to be aimed at provoking fear.
What a great post and challenge on kindness. Wow, couldn’t we all be a little kinder in our day. And especially to ourselves. Why does it seem that we are always hardest on ourselves? I’m looking forward to hearing more from you on this.
Here’s to an avalanche of kindness in our world Sue!
I find that kindness is all around, I just need to be open to it. The other day I had to get some blood work done and booked an appointment online (so I wouldn’t have to sit for ages awaiting my turn – self kindness!) I was running late for the appointment. Hurled myself into the crowded office only to find I’d left my requisition paper at home. On time. No paper. A gentleman with no English noticed my confusion and waved me ahead of him in line. The overworked receptionist listened patiently and suggested I go back home, get the paper and she’d fit me in.
I did. She did. So very kind.
Once again, I am reminded of the delightful way in which you start your day. So great, Deborah. I remember that you also blow bubbles! Is that daily as well?
I love your story Kelly. Sometimes I wonder if we somehow allowed for more kindness in our world, more kindness would appear. I like to think so.
And what a great memory! Yes, I indeed still blow bubbles daily. I like to send little love and joy blessings out into the world from my front porch every morning.
Sometimes I head them in your direction – I hope you’re receiving them. 🙂