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Today I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. By most accounts it could be said that it was a small action, but its impact was enough to inspire me to write this blog.

After the random act occurred, I missed a beat in what I was doing. I paused and gathered the many directions of my thoughts and herded them into the present. What was it that I was feeling? I sat with that for a moment. How could I define the feeling? I let it seep in even though I didn’t have words for what I was experiencing. It was more like a wash of warmth on my skin. Comforting. Off the cuff I would say “it felt good.” But there was more to it than just feeling good.

The breath work we practice in yoga teaches us to be present. We learn to feel the full spectrum of color in every moment. When I paused to allow the feelings evoked by this random act of kindness to become tangible, the hues of the experience became definable. This small act of kindness made me feel that I mattered. My physical body, my spirit, my very essence were recognized as being of value. I felt appreciated for being who I am, nothing more, nothing less. What a beautiful I gift I had received, and for the giver, it cost nothing more than a moment of time. It was so easy….and so valuable.

The lesson is obvious. The Dalai Lama famously said, “Kindness is my religion.” Living with kindness in our hearts allows us to move outside of ourselves. We shift our attention to someone else’s needs and move away from our own concerns. Wallowing in our own matters can lead us into a pit of self-pity, despair or even self-loathing. Performing a random act of kindness leads us to safer waters.

Practicing kindness as a means to an end – to distract oneself from oneself, to gain good karma, or to attract attention to oneself – undermines the value in being kind. A heartfelt random act of kindness done without expectation of reward or recognition, reaps rewards on multiple levels. The recipient of the random act of kindness clearly benefits, just as I did today. On a more subtle level, the giver benefits as well.

Doing something unprompted to make someone’s day a little more pleasant touches something sacred and eternal inside. Random acts of kindness connect us to humanity. They bridge the gap between souls living in separate bodies.

I believe that kindness begets kindness, that one act inspires many. The world is made a better place when kindness is practiced. That’s a world I want to live in.

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