To Be Kind. To Be Kind. To Be Kind.

Understanding is the key. Kindness is the way. In Yogic texts, 'Ahimsa' (Do no harm in Sanskrit) is so easily expressed but not so easy to adhere to at times.
Annemaree Rowley is a yoga and meditation teacher.
how to be kind yoga
Annemaree Rowley is a yoga and meditation teacher.

International yoga teacher Annemaree Rowley reflects on the Yogic wisdom of how to be kind and shares guidance to apply this kindness to every aspect of one’s life.

How To Be Kind: On The Path To Yoga

I feel that one of the most important aspects of living a holistic and fulfilling life is to be ‘kind’.  And I often reflect on the words expressed by the great author Henry James:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

In the philosophical texts of the path to yoga (to unite), kindness is known as Ahimsa:  Do no harm. ‘A’ – No, ‘Himsa’ – Harm. This applies to everything. Being kind in all that we think, say and do.

The Meaning Of Ahimsa

Ahimsa, this Sanskrit word opens a mélange of ideas, beliefs, and opinions about what ‘do no harm’ actually means. Ahimsa is so easily expressed but not so easy to adhere to at times.

Nothing is more unattractive than someone being unkind about another and nothing is more futile than one being unkind about oneself.

Constantly being aware of Ahimsa, therefore, means not hurting other beings, ourselves, or nature; being kind in thoughts and words towards all and ensuring that all that we do is done in friendship and harmony with the world.

I have learned from my teachers that Ahimsa is the most precious behest and directive of yoga. The aspiration of yoga is to quieten the restless mind to be able to meditate. How can one meditate without kindness in their hearts? One cannot be kind without being mindful and aware.

Before diving into how to be kind in every aspect of life, you might want to pause with these guided meditations by Annemaree Rowley:

  1. Gratitude Annemaree Rowley 16:08
  2. Courage Annemaree Rowley 14:03
  3. Non-Judgement Annemaree Rowley 16:16
  4. Compassion Annemaree Rowley 16:38

How To Be Kind: Guidance For Your Path To Kindness

The yogic text known as Sutra 2:35 states:

“In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.”

So how does one apply this kindness to every aspect of one’s life?

Perhaps:

  • Think before you speak. Be mindful of your thoughts. Think negatively and your body and mind will respond by being inflexible, stiff, in pain or worse still ‘ill’.
  • Listen intently when spoken to. Everyone wants to be heard!
  • Be aware of what happens to your body when you are unkind. You may feel discomfort or pain in the gut or at the heart centre. Listen to its whispers. When you are unkind, notice how you feel. You may feel absolutely dreadful and realise that this negativity is not only hurting another it is ricocheting right back into your own soul.

As voiced by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

  • Keep your word and keep your promises (always).
  • Collecting ‘things’ will never nurture your heart but kindness will.
  • Know that betrayal in any form can be devastating to the one who has trusted you.
  • Do not believe you have the right to change the direction of another’s life. Perhaps you are here to heal yourself first! OK, so that will be a life-long journey!
  • Proffer compassion, not retaliation.

Read more: From its history and science to how it makes us better people — explore why empathy is important and three practices to increase it.

  • Use your rational intellect in seeking the truth rather than jumping to conclusions and being ruled by the ‘emotional mind’.  In other words, seek facts not here-say…assumptions simply don’t cut it.
  • No judgment. Oh yes, this is a challenging one! Acceptance is the key.
  • No gossip. Even harder?
  • Charm is one thing, honesty is another. Nothing can be more harmful than those who are passively aggressive. (Those who are sweet-faced but are really behaving like silent assassins).
  • Avoid’ aggressive’ people whenever possible, ‘for they are vexations to the spirit’ (as quoted in ‘The Desiderata’).
  • Understand that everything one says will have a ripple effect. So is it not best that this ripple effect is an affectionate one?
  • You don’t need to stand on your head or run 30 km a day….to keep well. To be well one needs to release anything that is no-longer useful emotionally or physically. This is the epitome of being kind to oneself. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself.
  • Understand that everything one does affects this world in one way or another.
  • Stand alone if necessary and be strong rather than join the crowd and be carried away by the majority.
  • Understand the human condition. Be mindful and compassionate towards all. You never know what is happening behind the façade; that façade that we call ‘the face’.
  • Offer a hand and not an opinion unless requested.

Read more: Social media is a huge part of the way that we communicate nowadays. Read how to communicate mindfully and with compassion on social media.

  • Offer a smile and not a scalding.
  • Let go of social conditioning and the wrappings of identity that the ego creates. Be true.
  • Live in beauty. This is kindness to yourself.
  • Be mindful of all that you do.
  • Let people into the queue.
  • Follow your heart.
  • Stay out of harm’s way. If you are in the presence of someone causing you harm, remove yourself from his/her path.

Read more: Explore what forgiveness is and how it is linked with our ability to stay mindful. 

  • Diffuse rather than ignite.
  • Lead the way – don’t acquiesce.
  • If you are in the company of those whom you know feel harm in your presence (e. g. jealousy) stay away for their sake and for you own!
  • Know what kindness looks and feels like. Be sensitive to the fact that it is very easy to harm.
  • You need not separate yourself by beliefs, values, nationality, religion, disposition, tradition and status – we are all doing our best.  We are all in this together. We all breathe in the same air.  We all stand on the same earth.

Read more: Mindfulness and meditation teacher Manoj Dias reflects how giving thanks and expressing gratitude becomes a transformational power for your wellbeing.

Kindness As The Way To Humanity

It is so true that kindness begets kindness. It is contagious in a sense. Warmth is desired by most. All people, if asked, would tell you they wish to be treated kindly. You understand this so much with pets. Be kind to your dog and it will be your best friend for the rest of your life.

Perhaps reflect on these wonderful words spoken by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Indian philosopher…

“When one bell is rung, by the sound of that one bell other bells will also vibrate. So it is with the dancing of the soul ……it produces its reaction, and that again, will make other souls dance”

When you are kind, you are peaceful. Isn’t that what we all want?

Think of the peaceful warriors such as Gandhi (anti-colonialism), Mandela (anti-apartheid), John Lennon (anti-war), Henry Thoreau (anti-slavery), Martin Luther King (anti-racism), 

Hold hands with humanity and one can then be free from judgments, criticism, assumption, hatred, and enmity.

Understanding is the key.

Kindness is the way.

Discover hundreds of free guided meditations for connection and foster your feelings of closeness and kindness.

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