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I have reached a point in my life...

I have reached a point in my life where I want to spend time on what brings joy and delight to me and those around me.  I am drawn to those who have tolerance and patience and who exhibit concern for the well-being of others.  I find great value in spending time with people who like me, who love me and who want to share their smile with me.

I am drawn to those who love honesty and freedom.  I notice that I like to collaborate with those who are transparent, genuine and sincere. I love interacting with people whom love to learn and who are sometime uncertain about what they know.  I am comfortable being out of step with popular trends and I shy away from comparison as a form of motivation.

I value loyalty and forgiveness and I cherish heartfelt encouragement both when giving and receiving it. I am fascinated with the diversity of human creativity and I genuinely love those who show gentle, loving kindness to all beings.  And on top of everything I am amazed that people accept and welcome me into their lives.

Inspired by a statement by a public figure I admire. 

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In the Preface to The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama wrote:

Kindness is the starting point, the fount from which flow so many other positive qualities, such as honesty, forgiveness, patience, and generosity.
These words made me think about the connection between those positive qualities and kindness.  What would honesty, forgiveness, patience and generosity be without kindness?  Is there even such a thing as unkind patience or unkind generosity, or honesty?

Truth Telling as an Act of Kindness

Telling the truth can be an act of kindness, especially if told with sincerity and a sensitivity.  Not addressing an unpleasant situation can result in hurt feelings as much as addressing the situation can.  There is an element of risk present when, for example, a music teacher decides it is kinder to tell a student who shows no talent to consider other hobbies than to withhold her evaluation.

Sincerity and Sensitivity:  Keys to Kindness
Sincerity and sensitivity are keys to kindness.  Sincerity includes knowing where I’m coming from, in other words being honest about my motives, before I engage in addressing an unpleasant situation.  I sometimes need to spend time searching my heart to discover if I really do have the other person’s best interest in mind.  I may discover subtle mischief at play in the form of a slight desire to put them down, to return a hurt or manipulate an outcome.  I may even discover a slight desire to get even or to get my way.  Sincerity to me means that I own my motive and to take responsibility for the emotional fallout that may result when I address the situation.
Sensitivity means being considerate.  It is a style of engaging that is courteous and caring.  Without sensitivity I might wield the truth like an ax.  I might disguise rudeness by calling it honesty.  I might say things like “I’m just speaking my truth” right before delivering a careless opinion.   Sensitivity to me means being interested in discovering the clearest, kindest way to say what wants to be said with all mischief stripped away.

Things Get Easier
And even when sincerity and sensitivity are practiced there is little guarantee that the information will be received well. Nevertheless, these two qualities help me drop as much pretense as possible when engaging with others and when I am mindful enough to practice them things just get easier.


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My Trip To Mexico: Chichen Itza, Tulum and Isla Mujeres

What a surprise it was to return to Chichen Itza and discover the differences between now and my visit 8 years ago when it was still possible to climb the already crumbling stairs to the top of the pyramid.

I wondered on that first trip how it was possible that tourists were permitted to climb the climb the steep steps.  The guide on this trip told us that indeed there were serious accidents in which tumbling tourists took down tens of others below them.  How true?  I don't know.  Now Chichen Itza, a federal property is one of the most visited sites in Mexico and the buildings are protected from the many climbing feet.  You can admire and photograph from close, but no longer from up top.

The view from the top of El Castillo was amazing, and the steps, if I remember correctly, were very steep.  I found going down to be far more difficult than going up.  This visit, standing at the bottom gazing up, it was difficult to believe that I had stood in the dark opening way up there wondering what might have taken place at the top of El Castillo.

Every morning on our trip we gathered to meditate together.  We used an adapted version of the Loving Kindness meditation in which we called to mind people who are dear to us and imagined conveying a message to them using the words:

May you be filled with loving kindness
May you be well
May you be peaceful and ease
May you be happy

The 30 minute daily meditation was followed by gentle yoga and then breakfast and then an outing to one of the archaeological sites.  The practice of being together regularly and focusing on loving kindness contributed a beautiful feeling of camaraderie in the group and, in my opinion, made is possible for us to navigate gracefully through the sometimes stressful activity of being away from home and familiar creature comforts.

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Kindess Is My Religion

I love kindness, and like his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, I think of kindness as my religion.  I am not a Christian in the common sense of word, and I’m not Jewish or Hindu or Muslim, or Pagan.  However, anything in any of those religions that has anything to do with kindness inspires me and I am drawn to learning more about it.  I notice too that if there is unkindness in a religion I’m less inclined to believe it or trust that it is true.  I think this is why I have always been touched by the words of Jesus of Nazareth to his students, instructing them to love one another and advising them them that their treatment of each other would be the telltale sign that they were his followers.  

What do people know about you by observing you?  

If, as I say it is, kindness is so important to me that I call it my religion, will people know that from observing me?  Or, will it be necessary for me to explain it?  

I made a decision a long time ago to consciously act as if kindness is very important.  I leaned that not only is kindness important to me, but it is also my greatest weakness.  Perhaps it seems that way because if I commit an act of unkindness I take it more seriously and feel the disappointment more deeply than most other transgressions.

These days I’m exploring kindness in my attitude.  I’m being mindful of how I handle people and events in my thoughts.  In some ways it is a more challenging practice than being nice with actions and word is.

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