During my trip to London at the end of
June, I attended a meditation session at the Buddhist Centre at Bethnal Green. We did about 45 minutes of the loving kindness meditation which was then followed by a talk. Funnily enough, only when I arrived did I realize that I had been to the centre before when I had lived in London AND it was here that I experienced the loving kindness meditation for the first time. But that’s just a side note. 😊
The talk was about affectionate speech. And one thing in particular stuck with me:
We can try to be kind in our words, not lie, be truthful and loving. We can follow the “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” rules but what about all the things we do NOT say? How much pain can we cause by NOT saying something? How do we make others feel through the omission of words?
I am not proud to admit this (in fact, very much the contrary) but I used to be the queen of the silent treatment. And from experience I can tell you that “teaching a lesson” through ignoring the person never works or ends well…
The silent treatment is of course an active and aggressive form of omitting words of kindness. Probably even more often, it’s not an active decision we take to stay silent. We simply don’t think about it and about the effects our “not speaking” can have.
Here are a few thoughts about how we can become aware of speaking kindly in every day life:
When we ignore people we are letting them know that we are (pretending to) not seeing them. The opposite of that is to let people know and feel that we do see them. Very often we don’t need words for that, a simple smile and eye contact can make somebody’s day – whether at the supermarket check out or when arriving at the office. It doesn’t take much and costs nothing.
Checking in with people
How often do you ask others how they are and really mean it and want an honest answer?
Check in with the people around you, show them you are genuinely interested and happy to listen. Happy to celebrate their good news and to offer support when times are tough. Let people know that you are there for them. Not everyone will want to discuss things but it might still make a big difference to know that they could if they wanted to (eventually).
Tell people how you feel
You can never say “I love you” too often. Do the people you love and care about know that you do? It doesn’t even always have to be the big feelings, either. A simple “Thank you” can also mean the world to someone. When I lived in Hull/UK, people would always thank the bus driver when leaving the bus. I had never experienced that before – but how sad is that really? When you leave a taxi, you’ll thank the driver, right? Why not thank the bus driver when you are passing her/him on exiting the bus anyway?
There are certainly many other ways of speaking kindly. I am sure that setting the intention to spread a little bit of love every day to the people we get in contact with, will bring situations to our awareness where a smile or a kind word will make all the difference. And as an added bonus, that love and kindness will tend to have a way of coming back your way, too.