“This is my simple religion.
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own breath, our own heart is our temple: the philosophy is kindness.”
The moment I read this quote, it launched an arrow straight to my heart. I knew it to be truth. I longed for it to be my truth. Yet I had done enough excavating, enough rooting around in the depths to know that longing for something is not the same as owning it. And kindness had just never been my default under stress.
It is easy to remain under the spell of yucky emotions. They are compelling. True, the yuck leads me to react in ways I am not proud of. But these well-worn backlashes tend to keep me safe. And they are pretty predictable to boot. There is a comfort in safety and predictability.
Difficult emotions blithely had their way with me for years until embodied unraveling landed me on a very human edge. As awareness broadens, we can land in a peculiar place: increasing adeptness at tracking unskillful response and simultaneous longing for response to be different. Uncomfortable! Skillful responses manifest infinitely. Sometimes kindness is an option. Often we can choose a distinct response that is interwoven with kindness. My guess is we each have our own particular brand of default yucky reaction. I don’t believe I’m unique in the yuck.
Here’s the vulnerable part. The yuck I’ve been consistently tracking for years, in the best possible scenario, others might label as direct or harsh or a bit cold-hearted. My sense of humor can border on sarcasm. But I know what’s underneath this veneer. I know the historical depths of this one. I know what I needed to cultivate to survive childhood. I know what rumbles below the surface of basic lack of kindness. I have learned how to adeptly wield two related swords: hostility and her evil twin, contempt. It sure can keep the boogie man away. Unfortunately it keeps everything away.
So I’m circling back around again to kindness. It feels like the final straw somehow. Of course it starts with moi. Tracking disdainful self-talk. Recognizing the sneaky ways I am capable of pushing or struggling with or trying to “fix” my own body. The most potent learning about kindness comes when I recognize yuck behavior in the moment and shift into something softer—loving self-talk, gentle caress of movement, simple pausing.
Only from a field of consistent self-affection and friendliness can I naturally extend myself to you in kindness. We can build and learn to trust our own tracking skill to create this sturdy bridge for us. We can learn how to quickly identify a charged situation. Drop the knee jerk protective response. Harness that space of pause, give ourselves breath and time and love and understanding. Choose kindness.
Any offering in that sidebar will support this unfolding, in particular Undefended Heart this upcoming weekend. I know we can do this important piece of work because I’m a slow learner, yet I am immersed in the heart of it. Our own behavior is incredibly ripe for harvest. And really this world is dying for it. Literally.
Closing with one more Dalai Lama quote:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Living in possibility…..love, bella