The kindness movement! I love it! On the surface, it looks like everyone singing “Kumbaya”  and holding hands around a campfire. A sixties movement with a modern-day twist.   My children’s school district and the one I work in are part of a program called  Ben’s Bells. Random acts of kindness are encouraged and rewarded.

However, I have been missing the boat.  As I watch the kindness movement work its way through schools in my area at the same time, I notice an increase in anxiety, mental health issues, and a decrease in social skills (getting along with others, communication, negotiation and trust). Yes, we can blame technology and social media but that is whole other topic.

In early October, author and yogi Rolf Gates conducted a meditation and kindness workshop in my town. Mr. Gates said kindness is first about being kind toward yourself. Having compassion and love for yourself. WHAT!!??? That sounds so selfish. So egotistical! So wrong!!! Immediately my mind went to an image of a person flexing their muscles in a mirror and adoring themselves. You know the image of a self-centered person! As that image dissolved and I listened to his message, Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:39 came to mind, “Love thy neighbor, as thy self.” Okay, yeah that means you have to be kind to others. Simple, right? Well, not so fast, because Jesus also says, “as thyself.”  Therein lies my disconnect. I missed the message!! I must love myself, too!  If I don’t love myself, how can I love my neighbor? I can’t because I have nothing to draw from. Again I ask my self, ” If I don’t love myself, how can I love my neighbor?”  Hmmm, a thought to ponder…..

So the real work is learning to love thyself. That means loving every square inch of my mind, body, and soul  – even the yucky parts!! As I learn to love myself, loving my neighbor is a natural result (progression).  So I am on a journey of self-compassion and on this journey love and compassion will be the ripple effect. Will you join me?

With love, gratitude and compassion,

Anna

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