Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

This day is all about taking the time to show others that you care. Not just to the people that you know – but strangers too.  There are no limits to the amount of kindness we can show others. 

To celebrate, you can find ways to incorporate meditation into your day. 

Yoga instructor Amalia offers a guided practice to follow. 

In the Buddhist tradition, there is a teaching about the god Brahma, who had four faces, one for each of the four kinds of unselfish love. 

In the language of the Buddha, these are called Karuna (compassion), Upeksa (equanimity), Mudita (appreciative joy), and Metta, or Maitri (loving-kindness). 

Because the god Brahma is said to dwell (vihara) in these four forms of love, they are known as the Brahmaviharas– or the divine abodes of the heart. 

Abiding by these divine abodes of the heart every day may sometimes feel challenging, especially when you are exhausted or overwhelmed. 

But it is not impossible to do. You can begin by offering loving-kindness to yourself during meditation. 

Sit in a comfortable place and take two or three deep breaths with slow, complete exhales. Do your best to let go of concerns or preoccupations momentarily. 

For a few minutes feel, or imagine your breath moving through the center of your chest- in the area of your heart.

When you’re ready, mentally repeat slowly and steadily, the following, or similar phrases:

“May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”

When you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. 

Loving kindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves or others happiness.

Many of us have not been taught how to love ourselves. The culture we live in with its many systems of oppression, our families, and our life circumstances can all make this even more challenging to truly embody. Know that loving ourselves (and others) takes practice.

If feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love do arise in the body, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. 

After a period of time (minutes, days, weeks, months, years) of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat the phrases of loving-kindness toward them:

“May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”

As you say these phrases again, sink into their heartfelt meaning, and if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.

Over time, you can bring to mind other friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, and finally, people with whom you have difficulty.  You can either use the same phrases, repeating them again and again or make up your own that better represent the loving-kindness you feel toward these beings. 

We all have opportunities to practice kindness, and it doesn’t require ideal circumstances or lots of resources.

The more we give love, the greater our capacity for loving. This is how, even through small actions, loving-kindness can become limitless. 

Here are some ways you can start spreading kindness in your community. 

  • Send a text message, email, or snail mail, just to let someone know you are thinking of them. 
  • Add canned or packaged goods to a neighborhood food pantry, or donate a book to a little free library. If you have the resources, consider starting one of your own! 
  • Paint rocks with fun doodles or positive messages and leave them along sidewalks in your neighborhood. 
  • Deliver a home-cooked meal or order takeout for someone. 
  • Assemble and donate first aid supplies.

Eugene/ Springfield Specific:

Black Thistle Street Aid is a collective of outreach workers, herbalists & medical practitioners providing access to free healthcare through pop-up clinics and medical outreach to people experiencing homelessness in the Eugene-Springfield area. Find a list of items needed here 

Visit the Acorn Community Cafe. A new vegan cafe, coffee shop and food resource on Monroe Street in Eugene, Oregon. Its mission is to combat hunger and build a resilient community. Cafe sales and community donations allow them to fund their daily free meals and expand into offering an employment program for unhoused or at-risk youth”. 

Kindness is impactful and can inspire someone else to pay it forward. 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop.

By: Amalia Trieger

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