One month ago today, Saoirse Kennedy Hill ended her earthly life. A 22- year-old member of the famous and extensive Kennedy clan, she had lived with depression for many years. As the news media began to report on reactions to her death, one particular comment seeped quickly and deeply into my thoughts. Over the course of the past month, I have ruminated on the statement’s call to kindness, and why this quality so easily disappears in the wake of daily life.
And then yesterday, I alerted my brother to my our mother’s “struggling” state of mind, as I knew he would be visiting with her. Because Mom has been emotionally raw, I offered to my brother that “listening and tenderness” seem to be the best recourse in this current situation. As I wrote the note, I realized that once again, Maria Shriver’s words after her cousin Saoirse’s suicide had infiltrated my thinking.
As a media sound bite, Maria’s comment read: “Assume everyone is struggling.” That short piece provoked my contemplations with regard to how we view, judge, or disregard others without any consideration. If one thinks about walking through a grocery store, or waiting in line, or observing someone out for a walk, the set-point assumption is that all is well, or at least not in any difficulty. Yet if we think about ourselves as we move through the day, chances are that we are enduring some degree of physical or emotional discomfort: The imbalance may be fleeting, but at some point on any given day, a concern generally arises. The dis-ease may not be observable, and a person’s affect may not match the inner truth; however, “assume everyone is struggling.”
When I looked up Maria’s words again for today’s writing, I found her statement in full, more of which I include here: “Be gentle with others, as so many are fragile and struggling. Actually, I think it’s best to assume everyone is struggling, so treat everyone with love, tenderness, and compassion.” These are “big words,” and their intention often dissolves in the face of daily tensions and distractions: However, if one aims for a general abiding of their essential energy, a fundamental courtesy and baseline kindness can remain.
While we would not approach every person with whom we cross paths, and while some may be unreachable even if we did, we can align ourselves with the Universal Wisdom and its earthly attribute of basic human kindness. This is the Kindness that manifests in patience, and non-judgment, and listening with no goal other than to be present with and for another. This is the Kindness that we receive from the Universe through our Crown and our Third Eye; that we find when we attune to our Heart Center, and that we extend through our Aura.
To connect with this Kindness, first balance and circulate your overall Prana. Begin lying on your back with eyes closed. Place one hand just below your navel, with the other on the Heart Center: Bring your closed eyes to gaze at the Third Eye, and begin to build your breath awareness. Breathe deeply and consciously through the nose, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen, and the expansion and contraction of your ribcage. Breathe in this conscious way for 3 minutes.
Next, help yourself into your favorite seated posture, ensuring that the spine is long and relaxed; use whatever props will allow you to sit comfortably in this aligned manner. As you begin to focus your thoughts on how, when, and where Kindness operates in your life, become aware of when, where, and why it does not. Softly, subtly, with each inhalation and exhalation, promote within the very real idea that Kindness can be present at all times; recognize that your first response could be that, even when you do not feel “kind.” Begin to connect with the possibility on an intellectual level, and then move into the mudra practice.
As you sit with your shifting perspective, bring your left hand in front of the Heart, palm facing in; the hand is a few inches in front of the Heart Center. Place your fingers in Gyan Mudra, index and thumb tips touching. The left forearm remains parallel to the ground. Then, extend your right arm straight up alongside the right ear. Create Gyan Mudra on the right hand, and bend the wrist back, so that the palm faces up to the sky, fingers pointing behind you. Breathe fully and steadily, closed eyes gazing at the Third Eye, as you begin to draw Universal Consciousness into your Heart energy. Continue the breath with mudra for 5 minutes.
Next, place the left hand on the Heart Center; fingers are relaxed, no Gyan Mudra, and the palm fills with the Heart energy. Bring the right hand to nestle just below the navel: Gyan Mudra remains intact, and the palm faces up, as if gazing toward the hand that lies on the Heart. Breathe with this integrating mudra for at least another 5-7 minutes.