5 Ways to Cultivate Kindness
Our ability to be kind is dependent upon our past conditioning along with our ability to be Present.
Whatever your level of kindness, the good news is that you can cultivate more of it. Deeds of kindness work best when they’re created spontaneously. When this happens, our actions come from a place of love and are likely to feel pure to the recipient. Another option is to sit down and consciously think about how you can be kind to people, then plan activities to do so. This second approach is really being led by the ego and is likely to feel impure to recipients. It can also be used as a way of manipulating people. You cannot plan to be kind. However, you can plan to cultivate kindness…
I’ve had to work hard at cultivating kindness. It’s not been a quick or easy process for me and I still have much work to do. This is for a variety of reasons including an inflated ego and past conditioning. These days, I’m more often described as kind, and I put that down to the work I’ve done to cultivate kindness through spiritual practice. There are five ways of cultivating kindness that have worked for me over the years and I’d like to share them with you:
- Practice loving kindness meditation– also known as Metta Bhavana. This is a formal meditation practice that involves bringing to mind yourself, people to whom you can express kindness easily, people you have problems with, strangers, and everybody else in the world. As you do this, you use your imagination to send them love and kindness. This meditation trains the subconscious mind to create kind thoughts. This then leads to spontaneous kindness being generated outside of meditation. Having tried it for years and met many other people who have done the same, I can categorically state that this meditation practice does work. There are plenty of books, courses, apps and Internet resources that can help train you in this meditation.
- Do only what needs to be done– by following this guideline, we end up needing to do less for ourselves. We let go of spending time doing stuff that isn’t helpful spiritually speaking. The time that is freed up from this practice can then be used for the kind service of others. As I’m sure you will appreciate, when you’re too busy, it can be virtually impossible to bring awareness or consideration to other people or things.
- Be around kind people– Kindness is propagated by people. Everything else being equal, if you are around people kinder than yourself, your kindness will increase. If you hang out with people that are generally speaking, more selfish than you, there is a fair chance that the kindness you do have will be diminished. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hang out with people more selfish than you. That can be an act of kindness in itself as the chances are that they will become kinder in your presence. To cultivate kindness, your close friends need to be kind. Groups of people that you frequently mix with, generally speaking, should be kind. This may include people at your place of work and social groups you engage with.
- Work on Being Present – When Present, you’re aware and accepting of yourself, others and situations. In this mode, loving kindness will flow naturally. You will be connected to an infinite source of intelligence that will guide you towards kindness. You can learn more about Being Present in my book.
- Take opportunities to be kind– There will be many times when acts of kindness enter your consciousness. It may be giving some food to a beggar on the street, or randomly texting a friend to wish them well. If you’re present, you will know instantly whether these opportunities should be acted upon, and most of the time they should. If you are conscious of an opportunity for kindness and know it should be acted on then just do it!