“Kindness is the only strength there is.”~Gregory Boyle
Monday was one of those mornings. I spilled coffee grounds all over the floor at 6:10am. I kicked over my coffee while doing somatic yoga on my back at 6:35am. I had cleaned the floor, dried off my meditation books, had my bolster airing out and returned to my mat with a tiny cup of what was leftover of my coffee at 6:52am. I gradually made it to all fours, and up to several sun salutations thinking, Will all day be like this? No matter, I will just be patient and roll with it.
The day proceeded in a way only certain days progress. Outside it had all the right amounts of sunshine and shade. There was a light breeze and temperature was bordering on perfect. I made it to my morning class to teach and realized I did not bring my yoga mat. I forgot an item on my grocery list. I dropped my phone several times while walking the dog. I was sure to give myself ample time on my bike to commute between all my yoga classes throughout day. I managed to turn on the wrong street, get caught behind a smelly school bus, and get stuck in rush hour traffic in Lakeview. Somehow, I was still on time and able to enjoy the slivers of blue sky between the buildings. I repeated to myself: Inhale, I am present. Exhale, I am calm.
After my class in Lakeview, I sat outside the studio to speak with one of my students. Her native language is Russian. I had to ask several time how to pronounce her name at the beginning of class, as it begins with an elusive “Ks”. I could tell she was struggling with translation during class, but managed to follow along. I was sure to clarify things when she looked confused. We spoke after class about being new to Chicago and how it is important to distinguish Belarus, her home, from Russia. When we were getting ready to say goodbye, she told me “Thank you for the class and being a patient and compassionate teacher.” I felt undeserving of this praise and thought, Thank you for your patience and compassion towards me as I learn about you.
Mary Oliver says “Patience comes to the bones before it takes root in the heart as another good idea.” I think the same goes for compassion. It is something you have to feel internally so you can express it externally. I practiced compassion with myself in the morning: not getting upset about the coffee fiasco, my forgetfulness and general imperfections. One year ago I would have not been so forgiving. This internal shift has given me the strength to practice compassion with others. With my loved ones. With strangers. With my students.
Compassion is a mighty task that often feels daunting since I made it my mantra back in January. It has been a slow process. This past year has taught me to be kind, patient and more compassionate not only myself, but to my loved ones and the world. I take time each day to be grateful for what I have and allow myself to feel a sense of worthiness despite my imperfections. I try to focus on what I have accomplished rather than focusing on our cultural mantra of “never enough” and “busy competitions”. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I never wear fancy yoga pants doing a complicated yoga pose. Or if I am doing as much as that other yoga teacher on Instagram. It is not easy, but kindness is infectious. I am finally learning to slow down and see the forest for the trees. Small acts of kindness over time turn into bigger ripples. These ripples over time turn into waves. Kindness is truly where our greatest strength lies as humans.
How have you been kind today?
Love and Light,
PS: I am teaching at FOUNTAIN HEAD this weekend! 9:30am Sunday June 10th. Sign up here.