Random Acts Of Kindness

I was a little blown away by the number of homeless people I saw in Sydney recently 😦 and a little perplexed with how to help… then luckily the Universe provided me with an opportunity. 
 
I was in a 7/11 store stocking up on breakfast supplies and there was a man in the corner taking a long time to decide on what he was going to buy…finally I took notice… and saw that his trousers were covered in mud and his trench coat was worn through with holes.
 
I decided here was my moment so I wandered up to the counter and said ‘can I pay for what he is buying?’ – hoping to do it discreetly and anonymously!   The man at the counter’s eyes lit up and said sure…and I was already feeling better…  But then much to my dismay the man approached the counter and I was fearful about how our meeting would go!  The man at the counter said – ‘she wants to buy you your food’ and I made eye contact with the man in the trench coat…tentatively, not sure of his reaction.
 
‘Really?’ he said, ‘What’s your name?’ and wanted to shake my hand…we introduced ourselves – and it was the warmest interaction I had had with anyone that trip to Sydney….  He finished by saying ‘ Next time your in town I’ll buy you something’ and walked off with a smile…and the interaction left me with tears in my eyes and a feeling of warmth that is hard to explain….his gift to me was so much more than the food I bought.
 
Random acts of kindness and helping others – get us out of our own headspace and into a space of feeling a bit better about the world…   And yet it can be hard for us to find the time or to know how to do it or to feel comfortable doing it?
 
A little while ago our family had a kindness coin from school and it would anonymously appear on your pillow if someone in the family wanted to acknowledge your kindness – a lovely gesture – I might endeavour to bring it back!
 
One of the most amazingly beautiful random acts of kindness I read about was the lady who paid the parking fine for a stranger – when she saw they had been fined in a hospital carpark – she left a note to say ‘I’m sure with whatever you are going through you do not need this stress’ – how lovely and thoughtful!
 
So I’m just wondering what your random act of kindness will be this week? 🙂 Sara

Loving Kindness

loving kindness  Image from yoganonymous.com
Just recently in Mindfulness For Creativity by Dr Dan Penniman I read how doing this short meditation can help to grow your resilience. Below is Tara Brach’s version https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditation-metta-lovingkindness/ – 12 minutes long – but it can be a lot shorter than that and you will find many different examples online.
I have been using this meditation a lot recently to help when I am stressed and worried about my own wellbeing or a loved one’s wellbeing, and I always feel better afterwards. If I can’t sleep and I begin this then I tend to fall into a deep sleep. Sending goodwill and positive vibes seems more constructive than worrying….and it has helped me to heal some relationships and forgive some people.
The Dalai Lama approached scientists in the US who were studying depression, fear and anxiety and asked why don’t you study compassion and kindness? This is written about in the book ‘The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change The December 24, 2012 by Richard J. Davidson ‘ And lo and behold as they studied these positive emotions they found that the more you practice the loving kindness meditation the more your prefrontal cortex lights up (the mindfulness centre of the brain) and the less your amygdala / emotional part of the brain – fight, flight or freeze response lights up!). I always love it when brain research backs up doing a practice that is 1000 years old and I was doing it because it felt good!!
My preferred version of loving kindness is to first think of a loved one who you find easy to love unconditionally and keeping a vision of them or their written name in mind say silently to yourself:
May you be safe & protected
May you feel at ease and in good health
May you be kind and peaceful
Then to send that loving kindness to yourself by saying:
 
May I be safe & protected
May I feel at ease and in good health
May I be kind and peaceful
And then widen the circle to include others you would like to include in this wish and say:
May we be safe & protected
May we feel at ease and in good health
May we be kind and peaceful
And as you feel stronger at this you can include your wider community and you can include those people you are finding difficult or need to forgive, eventually!
To me this is the PERFECT meditation as a parent when you are worried about one of your kids or you feel like your connection with them isn’t as positive as you would like….somehow it seems to shift something….so I’ll keep on doing it….At really stressful times I might just say to myself repeatedly ‘may we be safe & protected’ – which feels better than ruminating on the worst case scenario etc.
What about you,are you willing to give it a go? have you experienced it before?
For more info there is a great article by Jack Kornfield at:
Yours in loving kindness, Sara 🙂
 

It really is my choice to enjoy life!

I’ve had a long break from writing this blog….but it hasn’t been far from my thoughts so here goes again….maybe this will help me to internalise some of my more mindful thoughts and learning!

I’ve just had a bit of a revelation, after moving house, moving states, busily unpacking, setting up house, applying for work etc and feeling REALLY stressed and overwrought… that I can choose to enjoy my life right now OR choose to be caught up in the obligations, expectations and pressure that  I place on myself (more than anyone else does)!  This revelation came after a friend in the desert texted ‘ you must be enjoying the beach!’ And I realised no….I wasn’t enjoying my new lush coastal surroundings…..instead my head was caught up in a whirl of jobs to be done, stresses to endure!  I started to question WHY wasn’t I enjoying this new life and it came to me ( so simple! but so hard to realise!) that I really CAN choose to take some time out each day to enjoy the beach….to clear my thoughts, to nurture myself, to find inner joy…..and most of the jobs still get done!!   Most of the stresses and pressures were self created – I don’t need to be a slave to my thoughts/unrealistic expectations…I can take a break from them….they’ll still be there when I want to face them!  It is as easy and as hard as that!   And as I began to open up more to allowing myself to take time out…..I realised that it had been a long time since I had cherished myself and that Buddhist saying ‘that to cherish others you must first cherish yourself’ rang true as I began to enjoy hanging out with the kids again.    It felt transforming to realise it was all a matter of choosing to change my thinking….yet all week I have still struggled to make that choice!   The guilt / worry / concern about what others will think and if I am being selfish or self indulgent means that it is very easy to put pressure on to DO more….rather than taking some time to BE!   I’ll keep you posted as to how that learning goes……how to cherish yourself in order to cherish others?

Mind Full Of Pain

I was in a lot of pain recently, waiting for the pain relief to kick in when I realised I was fighting it with my mind ( ‘oh no what if I can’t…..I don’t want to feel like this…..this is so unfair…..why me?…..will this make it go away? ‘ Etc).   Suddenly I remembered mindfulness so I allowed myself to label the pain ‘I am in pain’ and to sit with it, accept it and it was amazing to feel the shift, to really feel the space around the pain widen and expand, to feel that there was more to the situation than just the pain, to feel that it was impermanent and that it would be OK!   Of course I couldn’t be so zen about it all of the time….my mind would kick in and resist but just to have a few moments of peace, of going back into thinking ‘it is as it is’ made it more manageable!

 

I also remembered something a friend once told me re: childbirth which was the pain will always ebb and flow so that you can follow the peaks and troughs….manage the peak of pain and then allow yourself to relax in the trough….and keep this cycle of manage and relax!   This worked really well in my daughter’s birth but also this morning too….watching for the peak, relaxing when it ebbed even though the pain is continuous….

 

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for the pain relief to work so my suffering was short….and I am not sure I could do any of this in severe pain…..but it was good to see some of those mindfulness strategies at work?   Are there other strategies that you have used?

More Mindful At Work

I’ve been very lucky to have supervision at work with Sue G. who also teaches / practices mindfulness.  Together we have come up with some great ideas on how to be a little more mindful at work:

  • Mindfulness Bell clock on the computer (download for free and create your own timing).  This is a great little reminder to breathe and scan your body for tension
  • Take your shoes off, feel the carpet with your feet, walk to printer feeling the floor beneath you
  • 10 minute meditation at lunchtime
  • Breathe in your tea / coffee and do a quick body scan

I’m amazed at how UNAWARE I can still be of my body / tension at work but at least these strategies are helping me tune in occasionally!!   I’d love to know some other strategies…