Of the five Reiki precepts, the one that stirs my heart every day is “Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.” What comes to mind when you read this? Does it mean holding a door open for someone? Paying an unsolicited compliment? These are certainly both acts of kindness, but it can be so much more.
Most of us are quite capable of finding nice things to say about someone’s appearance, or something that they have achieved. How wonderful is it when we have taken extra time to style our hair, or to put together a great fashion combo, and someone notices? That “You look great today!” compliment you receive will probably put a smile on your face, and a warm glow somewhere inside. For a few hours, our self-esteem has risen, we are vibrating at a slightly higher frequency, and the sun seems to shine a bit brighter. Our whole outlook on our day may even improve. All because of four words spoken from the heart.
This kind of kindness is something that many of us can – and do – practise daily. But what about the type of kindness that comes with a bit more work, and perhaps a bit of (perceived) sacrifice? The kindness that comes from compassion and empathy and unconditional love for all?
“Kindness” – n. goodness, favour, act of assistance, service, help, aid
Many times in our daily interactions with others, we are caught responding with our ego, rather than our heart. Our need to be right or to have the last word sometimes overcomes our compassion. An awareness of this behaviour is the first step to modifying it. I try to catch myself before I respond. Better yet, I pay attention to the situation, to see what is truly happening and being said, without jumping to a response. Am I considering the entire situation?
For example, many years ago, there was a person I sometimes found myself “at odds” with and I often became engaged in yet another unpleasant sparring match. I realized there was more going on with them than just a desire to spar verbally. Almost every time we ran into trouble, it was because they were either not feeling well (in pain, even) or had been upset with someone else. This realization only happened when I dropped my ego, and was present and acting with compassion. Once I figured out why they were being unkind, I didn’t take anything personally, and could find it very easy to be kind and not respond harshly. Sometimes the best thing to say was nothing at all…. The situation dissipated quickly every time.
When we live a life of service to others, it doesn’t mean we are giving anything up. On the contrary, we are embracing and receiving so much more. We are not inviting ourselves to be used as doormats and to be taken advantage of, either. Rather, we are setting a standard for how we expect to be treated. And when this becomes the norm, when others see it as a permanent character trait, things shift. When we live kindly, people notice. After a while, they start living kindly, too. We can all take an active role in creating a better, kinder world.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama