Kindness, Tea and Nurturing

Tonight I attended the World Kindness Movement Australia meeting in Melbourne.

I also won the door prize which is always a bonus and very kind of the Universe. I was even more excited to realise the wine box will be great for storing my tea-tasting cups after the wine is consumed!

For those who know me personally, kindness is something I value and practice constantly. Stemming from being bullied as a kid for being quiet, studious and a red-head, I’ve grown up desperately wanting to avoid causing misery to others. So I go out of my way to be nice to people. On the tram, at the check-out, with the call-centres; as friendly and polite as possible – without coming across as Pollyanna. I feel good, they feel good; and you just never know how far the butterfly effect will flow on from a smile or a kind word.

The talk tonight covered bullying and its huge cost to society and even business – and we’re talking billions of dollars here. It got me thinking about the root of the problem. Why are people being unkind? I have a hunch it may have something to do with the old saying ‘you need to love yourself to give love to others’. And I wonder: Do we need to work on self-kindness to be kind to others?  Will teaching kids not to beat themselves up discourage them from beating up others?

How many of us are really kind to ourselves? Be honest now – do you give yourself the patience, acceptance or forgiveness that you offer others? Or do you harshly chastise yourself inside your head? On numerous times I’ve had to consciously catch and stop myself thinking ‘Idiot! How could you forget that? Why didn’t you do that better, be more organised, more self-disciplined, confident, assertive?’

Surely kindness needs to include kindness to ourselves.

I ran a workshop yesterday on Tea, Nurturing and Mindfulness for a group of carers of people with a mental illness. They were quite stressed and needed some techniques to help them cope better. We first talked about why we fail to nurture ourselves; our excuses of not having time, feeling guilty, putting others’ needs first, prioritising work or family or not valuing ourselves enough to think we deserve it.

Then we explored how nurturing tea can be; particularly when we create a ritual of mindfulness when brewing it. The carers took turns brewing with mindfulness and appreciation; of the farmers who had nurtured the tea plants, the aroma of the leaves, the steam rising from the pot – and their decision to nurture themselves. A small act of self-kindness from which I hope a huge and beautiful butterfly effect will grow.

How can you be kinder today? To yourself and to others?