The very act of engaging in meditation should begin with kindness. We come without judgment, criticism or expectation. We leave all preconceived notions to one side and come in a spirit of simple curiosity and kindness. We offer kindness and safety to ourselves just as a loving parent does with a child.
This kindness is vital and it must begin with the self. If our internal landscape is habitually self-critical, negative and uncomfortable, how are we going to experience the healing capacity of kindness? If we cannot experience it 'internally', 'first hand', how can we engage with others and with the 'external' environment, freely, positively and with compassion rather than suspicion, fear and separation? There will always be a dissonance.
The seed that we nurture and cultivate inside ourselves, for ourselves as much as anything or anybody else, will then spread beyond the self and change significantly the way we see the outer world and the way the outer world sees us.
The seed leads to the root
The root leads to the branch
The branch leads to the leaf
The leaf leads to the flower
The flower leads to the fruit
Kindness and compassion are often thought of as feelings, emotions or attributes, characteristics that a person, by nature, possesses or lacks. This is a misunderstanding. People are not born kind or unkind. Kindness is a skill that we can learn and choose to cultivate. We choose to cultivate it because it is of benefit to all, including the self. We don't do it to gain praise or favour; we don't practice kindness just to those whom we like or consider deserving; we don't even have to pay much regard to how we feel about being kind. It is something we practice, we DO, rather than something we FEEL or (inherently) ARE. We are better at it when there is no ego involved, no particular self-interest. We don't always succeed. We don't always get it right. That's why intention and practice are required. Kindness is seen to be essential for the welfare, wellbeing and contentment of all. It eases suffering.
In this way, we begin to see that even the sense of 'kindness to the self' dissolves. The edges blur, the ego falls away. It is just kindness which knows no self and knows no other.
Why choose unskilful action when we can choose skilful action?
Have a kind day!