Kindness as a Way of Life

Monday July 16th. Today I feel sick. Today I cancel a phone appointment. Today I sit briefly and sense my physical discomfort. I watch my breath for a short time and then I lie down with a book about spiritual materialism. I read 2 chapters. I lie still and close my eyes. I am too uncomfortable to fall asleep. I go to the family room and tuck myself into the big chair in front of the television and I watch 2 Oprah shows that I had recorded months ago and never given myself the time to watch. One is of Sidney Poitier talking about his young life. The other is about Gloria Steinem, talking about her life and sharing her experience in a world 50 years ago when women's paychecks were given to their husbands. I am distracted from my physical discomfort and transported into the lives of others for a time. Thank you Oprah. I shower and put on comfy pajamas. I head to my office to write.

A few months ago I would have tried to carry on with my day the way I had planned. Inside, I would have been disappointed, let down with myself for not feeling energetic enough to carry on as planned. I would have thought about how I now feel behind on my work and my project. I would have focused on a sense of loss of time and progress. This thinking would have led me into frustration and more disappointment with self. This would have caused more fatigue as well an urge to do more, be more. This would have been unconscious and unnecessary pressure that I inflict upon myself from within.

Today, I simply make choices that reflect the truth of my condition. I am aware of my old patterns, what my past choices have been, and the urge to act on any of it, the feelings of letting myself down, simply are not there. Inside, my meditation practice comes into full force in the moment. There is awareness, acceptance and choice. Today I choose kindness.

My head is starting to hurt, a headache in the back of my head. I sense that I may be hungry, but it is hard to determine this with certainty since my digestive system feels distressed. I will stop writing and go to the kitchen and see if my being is interested in some food, perhaps some soup. That thought appeals. This is how I will spend the rest of my day, listening from within, offering kindness to myself. It feels good to be treating myself this way. I can feel a twinge of guilt pushing at the edges. When others don't have the luxury of staying home and caring for self while sick, why should I? I see the thought there, pushing towards me, but I just watch it. It's okay Laurel. It's okay Laurel. It's all okay. Just watch.

I see that I am forgiving myself, but not. I sit and watch the disappointment hovering, but it doesn't really enter into my emotional system. I have not really disappointed myself, so the need to forgive is not really there. I am circumventing forgiving, by allowing and accepting. I do not engage the hurtful, judgmental parts before the forgiving, the parts that I would have felt the need to forgive, like the internally imposed pressure and expectations. Ah, that's a big awareness. I didn't hurt myself by imposing expectations, by suffering through not meeting my old standards. This is a subtle but profound shift into a deeper kindness.

Perhaps kindness is even more powerful than I understood before today. Thank you Laurel, for your kindness.