Many of you are celebrating the big holiday today. I hope you’re enjoying yourselves. We are. Bugs gave me a really wonderful present this morning. He’s the softest, kindest cat that I can remember him being, ever.
So — it seems we have only to raise the subject of kindness, and it manifests . . . . In my last post, some of you liked the farming metaphor, the idea that kindness can be grown, cultivated. Some appreciated comparing the skill of kindness to a muscle. If muscles are to develop, they need to be flexed. They atrophy if not used.
Working Out With Kindness Can Be Exhausting
So kindness appears to be growing, in this household. I think what’s “taking” in me, finally and at long last, is this twist on the old proverb:
Listening Unto Myself As I Would Have Others Listen Unto Me
So what has that looked like?
It seems to me that the first step is awareness: As a first proposition, a forthright acknowledgment of what’s really going on in me. Good, bad, ugly. Whatever. No fighting, no flight, no denial, no judgment – just – recognizing what is.
I mean awareness in the body. If the muscle of kindness is torqued or cramped, the body has the scoop, writ large in the headlines. The body never lies in that respect. What’s required, with that kind of cramp, is receptivity: calm, caring, nonjudgmental, nonstriving attentiveness. An attitude of curious openness.
This not always a fun exercise, when I’m afraid of what I might find. Do find.
It’s still essential to do it. Moshe Feldenkrais said: Before we can do what we want, we must first know what we’re doing. Pema Chödrön says: Start where you are.
Things must become known, first. They can be, in the atmosphere engendered by, say, meditation. Or the FELDENKRAIS METHOD®. Or in being listened-to and supported by one skilled in the empathy of NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION. In that kind of environment, absent judgment, pressure, or meddling – simply recognizing what’s being communicated by the body, the feelings, the emotions – things can step out from the shadows into daylight. The situation can calm down. Things can move through. Eventually.
Once that’s cleared up – then one can think about developing the muscle of kindness. Real kindness. The one that’s based in real feeling. That’s the topic I think I’ll tackle next. In the meantime:
Bugs isn’t too bothered one way or the other.