#14: Kindness – discover your innate gift!

We discuss – Kindness, which is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.

In this episode, we talk about what we commonly see when kindness becomes another activity to do. We then try to point to a deeper understanding of what kindness is. 

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Transcript of episode

Rani : 

So it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. And the theme for this year is kindness matters. We wanted to take this opportunity to explore kindness.

Suraj : 

As many of you will know, this is an annual event organised by the Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom. And it started from this Monday 18th of May and continues on till Sunday. The theme was changed this year to kindness from the original theme of sleep due to the significant impact of coronavirus pandemic in our lives at this time.

Rani : 

Yesterday at work, I did a mini survey is a very informal survey. But, basically I went around with a pen and paper. And, I asked my colleagues what kindness meant to them. There were lots of ideas and thoughts around acts of kindness. And it was lovely to hear that some people talked about a simple smile, just a smile could help someone get through the day, someone talked about going out of their way to make a face-to-face contact when there was no need; and actually, they could have done a telephone contact. But this person hadn’t met anyone for a long, long time. And so it just felt right, to make that face-to-face contact. Someone else said: “what else matters if not kindness”. And so there were lots of ideas and thoughts around acts of kindness and what people can do, not just during these difficult times but also in general, and it was really heartwarming to, to hear staff talk about kindness. And one person said humanity, I loved it.

Suraj : 

And we often talk about love and kindness, being the sort of essential glue that binds humanity together. And it’s important to recognize that, especially at this time of the pandemic, the circumstances that many of us are under will likely have an yet unimaginable impact on the psychological well-being of so many people in this world. It’s no doubt going to be a lot greater for those who have been really hit hard financially and socially. And I think it’s a good time to reflect on kindness, in terms of how this is expressed and experienced.

Rani : 

So there has been some focus on acts of kindness for well being, the warm feeling that comes with it and how being kind and doing acts of kindness might help our well being in a positive way. And this is the message I’m seeing. And I’m hearing, this is what I’m noticing when I scroll down my social media feed on Facebook and Twitter. So this is an action verb, isn’t it – You need to be kind, you need to do something for kindness. We’ll be looking at being kind, exploration of something that’s already inherent, something which is already part of our true essence. And one thing to remember is, no matter how good we feel, when we perform an act of kindness, that’s not going to last long. That’s going to be fleeting. In other words, we can’t hold on to a kind of feeling. Think about it. The whole week is about mental health awareness. And this theme is kindness matters. But it will be impossible even in one day 24 hours to just feel kind throughout. What do you think, Suraj?

Suraj : 

Absolutely. And I think that misunderstanding about the source of these feelings we label as kindness and love and compassion, there is nothing wrong in encouraging and engaging in acts of kindness. As long as we don’t miss understand where kindness originates from, where it comes from. So kindness as a feeling, I think it’s very important to distinguish if it’s a feeling we are after, or it’s a way of being that’s inherent that’s native in our existence.

Rani : 

What I’m hearing in what you just said, is that there is a deeper understanding of where kindness comes from. And that kindness is inherent in our true nature. And it might not feel like that it might not seem like that. But that’s what we keep pointing to people to keep looking inward in a way we can say it’s our perfume of our true essence.

Suraj : 

That’s a nice way of putting it. We are the embodiment of kindness. And, we are the embodiment of what we seek in this world. It’s important that we reflect on that. We fall into that trap of seeking by virtue of our conditioning, we may not see it psychologically, our mind may not consider ourselves as being unkind or being loving and compassionate. When one realises that kindness is a reflection of that innate space of well-being. It may seem like a small thing, but I think it has significant implications. When we realize that we stop looking for the outside of us, we stop looking for that in others. We do act harshly at times, don’t we? So there are times when we are unforgiving or we are upset, we are angry and we lash out or we are very judgmental towards one another. And that’s there, there’s a role of the mind in that.

Rani : 

That’s the nature of the mind, you know, we need the mind, the mind is really helpful for us. And yet, it is also the barrier when we want to experience kindness. And we want to experience just being ordinary. So yesterday, I was just reflecting on this Suraj. And it seems like we need to do all this acts of kindness. But what I was hearing from people is those ordinary things when we fall back into the ordinary, that comes naturally to us. Say for example, watching nature in your garden, watching the birds eat from your bird feeder, your feet touching the soft grass, when we have those moments, our mind gets quiet and we experience something in that present moment – in the now. That’s what we are pointing to.

Suraj : 

Yeah, how we can get affected by how others behave towards us. If we don’t know where actually kindness comes from, we can get very easily affected.

Rani : 

And it might be like, Oh, I have been kind to this person and look at how do you know or look at their action? They have not been kind to me, how dare they.

Suraj : 

So inherent in that way of thinking is reciprocity. So if I’m giving kindness out into the world, I should get kindness. Yeah, my sense of security, from kindness and love is dependent on how others behave towards me. That is at the root of most of our psychological issues, the suffering, the suffering, we go through as human beings. And I think recognizing that, discovering that for ourselves, is the master key to unlock the understanding of our true innate well-being.

Rani : 

The other thing that came to mind is problems and solutions. If you think about it, problems by the very nature, a harsh so that is like – oh, this is the harsh reality or I’ve, you know, my problem is that I get angry or frustrated or low and anxious. And it seems that there is a harshness. And, when you think about the solution, the real solution is softer, it has a gentleness to it. So I see kindness as the solution, the softness, that we are all in a way looking for. And kindness, not as an act of kindness, but as in exploration of innate kindness. So perhaps rather than focusing on acts of kindness, start noticing kindness all around, just go out in nature, and you will be aware of the kindness in the design, so to speak, and kindness is not necessarily in the feeling or the objects we see around. It’s more pointing to a space of stillness, of kindness. So to sum up, this mental health awareness week, it’s important to acknowledge that as human beings, we will suffer from time to time, some suffering comes from the mind. The more we give importance to the thoughts in our head, the more we suffer. Kindness also can come from the mind and it’s okay. But what we’re saying is that kindness from the mind will be fleeting. It’s important to look beyond the mind to the fact that kindness is deeper than our thoughts, than our acts, than our deeds – it’s a quality of our true nature.

Suraj : 

So we’ll leave you with that to reflect.