IMG_0771On a recent vacation to Florida (yup that’s me on the beach above) I got into a conversation about patience with my cousin. This led to a conversation about kindness that was once again reiterated in a yoga class I recently took.

My cousin and I were discussing her desire to be more patient as she felt she came across as snotty when that wasn’t what she intended. I said, why not practice kindness first because with kindness comes patience, but it’s not always the other way around, you can be patient but pissed off that you have to be. She and I both have jobs that test our patience daily, but if we approach the conversations that take place with a kind, open ear, how can we be anything but patient and understanding?  That has stuck with me. It’s clearly easier said than done. It reminded me of high school when I really did strive to be nice to everyone, to not talk behind people’s backs like so many of my peers were doing. It was a conscious effort, me trying to be a better person and not succumb to unnecessary meanness. Not to say I was always completly successful but I tried. It helped to shape my personality today and I have gone on and off of being focused on this over the years but this conversation was a great reminder.

Now back to that yoga class, the one that gave me just what I needed, just when I needed it, (it’s funny how many times that happens in these classes) here is the quote my yoga instructor Jen read:

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”― Kurt Vonnegut

She was explaining that kindness is a constant practice, much like yoga is a practice, always striving toward betterment of the self. If we can master our mind during intense physical practice we can master it in any situation. If we wait until we are already in a state of being that is negative, already reacting to how we feel and then try to be kind, it’s inauthentic. We want to be in the state of kindness to begin with and view our reactions from that state. It’s a paradigm shift in perspective. It’s living authentiacally vs. outwardly apprearing kind and internally experiencing negative derogatory thoughts. That dicotomy is living untruthfully. So yoga and kindness have a lot in common, they are both practices, something we are always striving to improve upon, never quite mastering but learning so much along the way.

Jen is also the instructor that made me fall in love with yoga as more than just a physical practice, but a practice that transcends the mat in which you can bring into all you do.  How could I not with her teaching lessons like the one above on a regular basis? Here is her website, you should check it out, she is brilliant and so insightful. http://jwhitneyyoga.com

I now practice the principles yoga has taught me such as breathing and dropping into focus on my body in a myriad of situations including when I eat. I slow down, notice my bodies signs of being satisfied and enjoy the process much more. I have a better understanding of my body from my yoga practice than I ever have before because I can drop into an awareness that yoga has brought out in me. It’s also helped me in all of my physical activity to prevent injury because I know how far to push and how to practice proper alignment in physically challenging situations.

How can you start practicing being kind? Is it holding the door open, giving your seat on the train to an elderly person, smiling at a stranger, taking a deep breath before getting into it with your significant other? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

I found one more quote I wanted to share about all of this:

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”
Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan