Bring on Kindness and Compassion

DadRecently I reconnected with a childhood friend on Facebook. He had been a member of my dad’s Scout troop. I remember my dad talking about him very fondly.

My friend shared with me that my dad had a huge impact on his life and that it was from him that he learned what real dads were like. It turns out that his own dad was not a very nice guy at all, something that I didn’t realize at the time.

You never know what other people have gone through in their lives, what they are experiencing now, nor what they are feeling. Whatever you choose to say or do can have a profound impact.

In yoga, there are five yamas. These are characteristics that we strive to embody. They describe our fundamental nature – we are compassionate, honest, generous and peaceful beings at heart. These traits are already a part of us and the practice of yoga can help us uncover them fully.

Ahimsa is the first yama. It is all about kindness and compassion towards all people and things. It is usually translated as non-violence and includes non-violence in our actions, words and thoughts. Non-violence is love.

Sometimes life is annoying. When someone really irks you or just doesn’t behave the way that you expect or hope, it may not be easy to respond with love and compassion. This is where it is useful to consider that you probably don’t have the whole picture.

I never knew that my childhood friend had such a difficult home life. And I never realized how lucky I was to have such a loving parent.

My dad died many years ago, I loved hearing this story about him. I thanked my friend for sharing it with me. I told him that he had made my night. He told me that my dad had made his life. Wow. I wonder if my dad knew the effect his kindness had?

We were shaken this week by the sudden death of Robin Williams. Shocked that someone who touched so many, who made us laugh so much could be living with such great sadness inside. We often don’t know what pains others. But we can still make a difference.

I think we can make a difference by practicing ahimsa – non-violence, kindness, love. We may not always know what people are going through. But like my dad did for that little boy and Robin Williams did for so many, we can in our own way let people know that they matter and that someone cares about them. Maybe we can even make them smile.

A meditation that seems fitting:

“May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..”

Thank you for being a part of this yoga journey with me.

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