I listened to a speech from Nipun Mehta in Aug of 2013 – what if generosity is taught by people that have little. I enjoyed listening to Nipun. One thought made a solid impression on me – it’s not what you give, but what giving does to you.
Everyone can give – it’s about inner abundance, and not material abundance. And small is beautiful. “It’s not the stuff; it’s the love around that stuff.”
I took up Nipun’s call to action to sign up for a Kindness Challenge. I didn’t know what to expect. As the Challenge started, I got an email every morning for 21 days. The email messages encouraged me to perform simple acts of kindness. For example, to acknowledge someone working hard, to be helpful to a public servant, to listen patiently to a family member, to call a friend I haven’t been in touch with for a while, to give a gift of a book to a friend, to do a single act of kindness to someone, etc. I tried to act on quite a few of these, and the impact it had on me was priceless. I became more aware of my thoughts and emotions. The simple acts of kindness opened me up to the people around me more easily. I felt connected in a soothing, nurturing healing way. We feel good when we connect with others in a meaningful way – that’s our very nature. It felt good to experience it.
I decided to become a volunteer with ServiceSpace then. What a journey it has been.
I took on an initiative to use SMILE cards – or as the card says, I started tagging people. It’s giving something anonymously along with the SMILE card. I got several memorable and yet refreshing moments from that. Here are some of my stories on from that. Random acts of kindness filled me with a feeling of goodness and a positive spirit that carried me the rest of the day when I would tag someone. I had an Aha moment on one of the Awakin calls that summed it up so well.
It’s about our emotional brain – amygdale. It is wired genetically over millions of years to react to fears – either by fighting or running away (fight or flight response). It shunts the blood supply away from the thinking brain and towards limbs. Breathing gets shallow; blood pressure goes up, the heart starts pounding. Unfortunately, a similar reaction is also triggered in every situation that makes us feel uncomfortable. It could be getting stuck in traffic, standing up and speaking in front of people, preparing for a challenging exam, anxiety from not being able to work effectively with someone, friction at home, etc. The simple acts of kindness or giving or helping out others rewire our neurology in a nurturing, healing way. It relaxes the brain, lowers blood pressure, and connects me to that stillness and peace from inside.
I write video introductions for Karma Tube. What an experience it has been to watch a variety of insightful videos and to distill my thoughts!
Examples of my favorite videos:
I write takeaways for Awakin calls, anchor calls when I am able as a host. Experiences from that are mind blowing. Examples –
- Building village intelligence – Sureshbhai Parmar
- Unconditional Leadership – Walking the Walk – Conversation with David Robinson
- Spiritual Activism – Potential for solving real world problems using mindfulness – Conversation with Claudia Horwitz
- Power in the feeling of being connected – conversation with Emma Seppala
- Ecoshophy: Nature’s Guide to a Better world – conversation with Elisabet Sahtouris
Three ideas, three insights that have come back to me over and over while volunteering with ServiceSpace –
- Monitor my thoughts: Being able to slow down where I can witness my thoughts – how I am reacting to events, people, situations, and ideas is so empowering. I learned about its healing benefits from Joan Borysenko’s book. I have been trying to cultivate that since then. Awakin calls brought me closer to it. I can see the challenges, situations in a whole new light, by merely observing my mind and thoughts. How priceless!
- Another common thread and a ripple that has reached me while engaging with thought leaders, positive change-makers is listening to that voice from inside – vision/fire from inside, calling from inside, answers from inside …however you coin it. I think it is a natural reward for monitoring my thoughts. It comes naturally, and it is so enlightening, so liberating, and so insightful. And the second part to that – act on that voice.
- I have heard and read so much about forgiving others – and that is, for my good (health, relationships, unlocking my potential to the fullest). I have heard and read about compassion for others. I have listened to and learned so much about the virtue of patience while dealing with others. I have understood the power of empathy, as it creates breathing room for the person – they would feel affirmed from the mere fact that I took time to know how they feel. How do I cultivate? Where do I start? The answer that I got starts with simple acts of giving. It all – forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and patience – begin with small acts of giving.