Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.
This is an intense time. In almost any space I step into, whether it’s in-person or virtual, it feels to me that people are extremely charged up. Have you noticed that too?
Opinions are flying left and right about presidential candidates, and there’s a palpable layer of fear and nervousness about climate change, racial tensions, economic challenges, and so much more. In this environment, people are acting out and reacting in all kinds of ways – and I include myself in that.
My own emotions have been more turbulent than usual lately as I work through my personal set of insecurities around money, relationships, meaning and belonging… Whew! It’s enough to sometimes send me over the edge.
Recently I saw a remarkable film – Embrace of the Serpent. What a powerful story of the devastating consequences of colonization… and of the potential, always, to come back as a ‘whole person.’ Without giving too much away, I will tell you that one of the characters in the movie offers an act of extraordinary kindness to another person toward the end of the story.
Then I remember the people going through “Waking Up to Your Life,” the online program that Katya Lesher and I are teaching right now. During these 12 weeks, participants commit to nurture a contemplative practice. When they don’t meet their own expectations, it often brings up feelings of guilt and shame. Our guidance to them is to release judgments and be kind to themselves.
All of this has me meditating on kindness… and what it means to be radically kind. Here are some things that came to me:
- Kindness toward yourself can co-exist with expecting the best of yourself. Kindness doesn’t have to mean dropping your standards.
- Kindness toward others can co-exist with communicating to others about their harmful choices and behavior … Kindness doesn’t have to mean dropping your dedication to a more peaceful and just world.
- Kindness happens in how we live in our bodies, what we feed ourselves, how we move or don’t move.
- Kindness happens when we give ourselves and others space to feel – without having to understand why the feeling is there or what to do about it, and without trying to suppress it and charge ahead with action.
- Kindness exists between people, and the most radical acts of kindness will require us to drop our ideas about who we are or what we think we deserve, if even just for a moment
I’m curious how all this lands with you… How do you offer kindness to yourself? How do you offer it to others? What would be a radical act of kindness for you, right now? Please leave a comment below and share what this possibility of ‘radical kindness’ brings up for you…
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