Here come the holidays! I’m about to teach my last yoga class on USA soil for 2017. My mom is coming to visit us here in Los Angeles for the holidays. I must confess, too, that my birthday is coming up on December 22nd and it’s a big one. I’ll be turning 40 years old and we are going to Carmel, California with the kids to celebrate. I can’t believe I’m about to turn 40 but I’ve been hearing good things about this decade and I look forward to experiencing this first hand!
Right after Christmas Lauren and I leave to host our annual New Year’s retreat. This year we are going to Cambodia and I look forward to the adventure that awaits. So, I’ve been holiday shopping, wrapping presents, prepping for my mom’s visit, finishing revisions on my new yin yoga book, finalizing the launch of our new “Journey to Yoga” program, getting ready for local/international travel, finishing a teacher training, and teaching classes 6 days a week and it’s been busy!
Sometimes when we get busy, we get stressed. And when we get stressed, sometimes we forget about kindness. As we move through the holiday season perhaps the most powerful gift we can give to others is kindness. This can be as simple as offering a sincere compliment to a co-worker, sharing a warm exchange with a stranger, telling a friend how much you value them, or contributing an offering to your favorite charity.
There is something about when we act from kindness that helps to animate our own happiness. And this isn’t exclusive to humans. My meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, often speaks about a study done with rats. Two rats are placed inside of a large cage. One rat is comfortably given most the space to roam around. The other rat is placed in an area that is greatly restricted and uncomfortable. They are separated by a wall with a lever that can open a door between both areas of the cage. Initially the lever doesn’t work for the rat in the bigger area trying to help its companion out. The scientists would place 2 chocolate chips solely for the rat in the larger area. He would only eat 1 and then save the other for its friend. Finally, after a period of time scientists activated the lever. The rat freed its buddy, and not only did the friend have much more room to roam, but also had a pile of chocolate chips waiting for him or her!
There is something wired into not only us as humans, but also animals, to be kind and generous. If a rat can be kind then I hope you can be kind. Kindness is universal and unifying. As you move through the holiday season perhaps share the gift of kindness with others, your act may just light up their day!
Practice Tip: Another powerful way of practicing kindness is through the “Loving-kindness” meditation. Find a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Bring a person inside of your mind that you would like to send good vibes. See them as clearly as you can. For a few minutes silently repeat the phrases, “May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you be at peace.” When you are finished slowly open the eyes.
“The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” by Benjamin Franklin