What is kindness? It is a drive to
assist a person, animal, or object. We can differentiate kindness
from other types of benevolence:
Kindness is based in an action. It arises from our
internal state (i.e., thoughts, emotions, feelings,
"thoughtfulness"), but kindness is usually not identified as such
until we express that internal state, with "an act
Kindness is generally associated with small, non-essential
gifts. For example, if we give a lollipop to a child, that is
"kindness"; in contrast, if we give $100 to a starving man, that
might be called "charity."
Kindness does not require reciprocity; i.e., we do not expect
anything in return (although we appreciate a "thank you" or a
smile from the recipient of our kindness). In contrast, when we
"do a favor," we expect that the other person would do a favor for
us in the future.
Kindness is an act of anonymity. Sometimes we commit acts of
kindness for people whom we do not meet. Even when our identity is
known by the recipient, we do not linger to accept any acclaim
beyond the person's smile or a word of gratitude; kindness is
Kindness is generally a spontaneous act. We see a need,
and we fulfill it immediately.
The techniques of
Self-talk. "I enjoy being kind to people." "When I am kind,
I am happy."
Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves performing
acts of kindness.
Energy toning. We can generate the energy tones of
compassion, caring, etc.
The "as if" principle. We act as if we are kind.
Intuition. Intuition can guide us in the words and actions by
which we express kindness. And intuition can tell us when our
action would not be appropriate; for example:
This person might need to work out the problem alone. Our
kindness would be viewed as meddling, co-dependent, or an
intrusion into the person's privacy.
We might need to tend to our own responsibilities. We
cannot spend all of our time helping other people.
Specific actions might be inappropriate. For example, our
act of kindness might be to give ice cream to a child -- but
the child's parent might not want us to do that.
We can perform acts of kindness toward many things: friends,
neighbors, strangers, drivers in heavy traffic, animals, plants
(e.g., straightening up a tree which has been blown over in a
We can perform verbal acts of kindness. For example, we
can compliment people, and we can congratulate them, and we can
help people to see a humorous viewpoint on difficult
circumstances. These verbal acts can be spoken -- or written, in
an email, or a greeting card, or a note, or another form.
We can perform physical acts of kindness. For example,
we give hugs, and we smile, and we assist people who are carrying
We can be prepared to commit acts of kindness.
We can buy the equipment. For example, we can have tools
and jumper cables in our car, to assist motorists. We can have
a city map, to help people who are lost.
We can acquire the training. For example, we can learn how
to do basic car repairs. We can learn first aid (including
We can develop "mindfulness" to the needs of others. We
observe the people around us, to notice, for example, the short
woman who is trying to reach a product on the top shelf at a
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