THE POWER OF KINDNESS

THE POWER OF KINDNESS

Let’s face it: our social and emotional muscles may have atrophied a bit during the pandemic. With renewed strength and vigor, let’s approach the world with more kindness, recommends our Austin-based Resonance Repatterning expert, Mary Schneider.

WHERE ARE YOU, KINDNESS?

Has kindness disappeared? If it has, where did it go? And why? Is kindness a casualty of what transpired in the past few years? Asking this question of ourselves is important. There are those who think this is true, believing kindness in our culture has atrophied since the pandemic. Much anecdotal evidence seems to support the truth of this claim. Stories come from all cultures and parts of the country. Could it be possible that fear and isolation have lessened our ability to be generous and concerned about others without expecting praise or reward? If this is the case, we can take steps to roll it back to pre-covid standards post-haste.

 

Kindness is human nature. It is innate. Experiments with infants conducted at Yale University concluded it is inherent in human beings. Even in observing young children at play, their empathy (among other things) is often revealed. Kindness also has intrinsic value. In their book, On Kindness, Barbara Taylor and Adam Phillips stressed how “real kindness changes people, often in unpredictable ways.” This idea suggests that kindness is transformational for all parties and supports the fact that kindness is much more than just being nice. As an example, I personally experienced this over the course of a decade of holiday seasons. My friends and I would buy carloads full of toys and take them to Blue Santa. Transforming our holidays in unexpected ways was more fun and joyful knowing that others, much less fortunate, had the opportunity to encounter the same.

Kindness is a virtue. It is written about in countless books, some published before the time of Christ. A topic frequently referred to in the Bible, kindness shows up in other important spiritual texts. With its sister-virtue, humility, kindness is a pre-requisite for many other virtues. Humility begets kindness; kindness begets humility. Plus, not unlike humility, if you think you have it, you probably don’t.

SKILLFULLY KIND

Others describe kindness as a skill, possibly contradicting Yale’s research. This belief suggests kindness is a learned behavior. Maybe true for some, this idea seems to negate the innate nature of kindness. Genuine kindness is a radical act. For a while, the bumper sticker Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty graced scores of cars. At the very least, ‘random’ and ‘senseless’ indicate enthusiastic unpredictability, while ‘skill’ implies a modicum of predictability and uniformity.

 

Kindness is much more than just being nice, emerges here. Either way, nature or nurture, kindness includes the absence of the need for recognition. Long before the appearance of Christ, Wikipedia writes, “Aristotle defined kindness as ‘helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped’.”

So, where are we today pre-post-covid? What might be the most fitting and proper behavior to commit to during this holiday season? Given it has been some time since we wholeheartedly embraced celebrating, it might behoove us to create an intention. An intention marking the revival of Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, St. Nicholas Day, and other holidays may be in order. Let’s commit to reminding one another that kindness is innately human.

Remembering who we are in our essence and recalling how it looks and feels, let’s pledge ourselves to random acts of kindness and senseless beauty once again. Without expecting praise or reward, it could be the stylish-hip-sophisticated thing for the yuletide season, for there is nothing more hip, stylish or sophisticated than being kind to others…and ourselves.

SILVER LININGS

SILVER LININGS

We all realize that with every challenge, there is potential, especially as we reflect on this year’s obstacles and possibilities, according to our Austin-based Resonance Repatterning expert, Mary Schneider.

YEAR ‘ROUND OPPORTUNITIES

The holidays are always such a wonderful time of year. Within that joy, there is much to contemplate in 2021 on so many levels. Consider the changes encountered since this past January. Of course, we have new leadership in Washington, with its itinerant challenges,  some already serious. Leading the way is the pandemic. The vaccine and variants will remain the top story for a while. Yet, it is a tiny fraction of the whole. It is also stressful, and that’s without factoring in our own personal dynamic thus far. Hopes can be dashed regularly. Things seem to be settling down only to be resurrected just as we begin to relax a bit. Learning to live with high‒stress every day can be instructive.

 

Luckily, opportunities do present themselves daily. What are we able to live with while staying present and engaged without compromising who we are? Many of us did not know what it would look like if these boundaries were pushed. We have learned a lot about ourselves, which is truly a silver lining…a ray of light.

 

During the holiday season, we re-connect with relatives and friends not normally seen–a double-edged sword at times, as we all know. Also, many people are often quite busy the last few weeks of the year. As a result, the holidays are inherently stressful. This year, as last, promises again to be challenging. Still, it is different energetically. We are stronger this year and more resilient. To most, with the vaccine, we are empowered and potent. This is always a winning combination–the self-esteem trifecta–strength, empowerment, and potency.

 

HOW TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT

What can we do with all of this? There are plenty of options. If we are present and live in the heart, then whatever we decide will be the best decision. Reflection fortifies us. Because of where we have been, we see what might have been done differently. Contemplation allows us to recognize patterns in our psyche that might be negatively influencing our decision-making process. Furnished with this kind of knowledge, we enrich our creativity and learn not to repeat negative patterns.

 

Recent studies have discovered that the pandemic has triggered an extensive re-evaluation of work and life for some Americans. Countless people are deliberating changes in their careers and their communities. The Washington Post recently quoted an Austin man who was forced to change careers, “If you come out of the pandemic the same as you were, you’ve missed an opportunity to evolve and grow as a person.” The article added, “Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. workers under the age of 40 have thought about changing their occupation or field of work since the pandemic began.”

 

Life is an ongoing and dynamic process. We are in a continual state of transition. When our day-to-day routines progress along non-stop, we may not notice the subtle changes in our lives and in who we are becoming. An event like the pandemic is a great interrupteran opportunity to be more mindful of our lives’ processes–and what is important to us. Change is good, and sometimes painful. Those who have been through a painful divorce or serious health alarm can attest to this reality.

 

Another young woman interviewed in The Washington Post article stated, “The pandemic taught me that nothing is guaranteed now. Everything can change within months, if not weeks,” she observed. “Just being able to spend time by myself made me realize what path I did and did not want to go down.”

 

Contemplation and stillness were not a significant part of our lifestyle pre-pandemic. Now, these tools have become so much more accessible. We do not need to change anything. However, it is wonderful to know that if we choose to, there is the potential for many people to provide support and community…another silver lining.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Now that we are back in the swing of things, some of us are reengaging with others like never before. Others are taking it a bit slowly. Our Austin-based Resonance Repatterning expert, Mary Schneider, offers insight on moving forward with others.

WELCOME BACK

What an amazing night it was…I went to an actual party, yet I haven’t been out again quite yet. I am being gentle with myself. A therapist wisely counseled me to take it easy and not over-expose myself too quickly. Not due to the pandemic, mind you, but in order to not end up with a “hangover” from too much socializing too hastily. Many people have made the same decision.

 

What has happened in this post-Covid era is slowly becoming a trend. People spent an inordinate amount of time, often alone, in their homes for the past eighteen months. This we know. Many of us developed a curiosity about what society would look like after the pandemic. Welcome. Now we are beginning to get a taste of it. Of course, many people and their families lost loved ones in these last eighteen months. We send them all love, light, healing, and blessings. We wish you peace.

 

Growing re-connectedness. We have coined a new term here. When you make a new friend, there is a choice. A choice to retreat to old ways of being or maybe, try something new. Covid and its subsequent isolation have provided us with a tabula rasa if you will (the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content; therefore, all knowledge comes from experience or perception). Interacting with selective amounts of people allows us to polish up our communication skills. We are also compelled to go deeper, as opposed to hanging out in what is familiar.

It may just be that we have no desire to do this going deeper-thing. And, being obliged to feel perhaps uncomfortable. There is a wonderful growth opportunity here, though–one of the silver linings of the pandemic. We are invited to try styles of relating to which we may be unaccustomed. Possibly we could be more open. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, we might be more quiet. Being in the same group of people for lengthy periods can magnify our mistakes. Yet, we see that despite our mistakes, we are still loved. We can heal them. I see increased self-acceptance leading to treating oneself more gently, and therefore, intimacy can improve.

 

ELECT TO CONNECT

Of course, with old friends, we can attribute our newfound relationship conduct to being isolated for so long. Over time as we move back out into society, the improved communication patterns we developed can positively affect all our relationships. We begin to reap the benefits of intimacy as a shared outcome. Intimacy (think of into-me-see) is a process where people know one another on a deep level. Many married couples have this, and best friends can, as well. It depends upon the basis of the relationship. The presence of true intimacy is a gift of divine proportion and is to be treasured. This intimacy requires a certain amount of vulnerability–authenticity coupled with the heart. The heart confers the capacity to express our feelings and state our needs.

 

Going back out into the world, we find our relationships are transforming. True intimacy allows us to talk about how we feel without remorse. It also allows us to express our needs with the expectation they will be met making us feel loved deeply. The deeper the intimacy, the greater the love. Intimacy and love increase exponentially. Self-love and self-acceptance are present, and we recognize we are beloved.

 

Ultimately, this agreement we made to engage in a quarantine lifestyle opens us to uncharted territory residing within us that we have always wanted to access. If we give ourselves this gift of self-love, we will have more to come back to when the pandemic is finally truly over. Covid-19 gave some of us a more authentic life.

 

Most importantly, we took the opportunity we were given and made the most of it. Lemons can always become lemonade. It turns the silver lining into pure gold, allowing us to see that we can love ourselves and love others as ourselves. We can see their mistakes, and we can let them go.

HOW TO HAVE A SUNNIER DISPOSITION

HOW TO HAVE A SUNNIER DISPOSITION

Hello, you warm, gorgeous summer. According to our intuitive self-help expert, Austin-based Resonance Repatterning Practitioner, Mary Schneider, the summer season is ripe for opportunity, change, and a continued recalibration of what’s important.

GOLDEN GLOW

Thankfully, it looks as though our summer might be different from last year’s with the revision of the mask mandate and pandemic protocol. Trying to imagine all the events and activities set in motion with this pronouncement truly astonishes the mind after the last year we all endured. What a lovely time of year to have all this transpire. Summer is the season of fun and relaxation, especially in the south. More importantly, summer’s most distinguishing characteristic is its power to heal, nourish and nurture. Of course, these are also all the attributes of the sun.

 

Had I lived with the Incas, Aztecs, or the Mayans, I would have been a committed sun worshipper like their cultures. With the advent of summer, people today join the ranks of celebrants answering the call of long-forgotten compulsion. Or, maybe not. There are continents of believers working long hours in stressful jobs to be able to get to the water to enjoy its restorative qualities. Beaches are covered in every color of the rainbow where not one more towel will fit. Today, we venerate the sun as much if not more than these three Indigenous Peoples combined.

 

Let’s face it. Healing properties are the sun’s stock and trade. This sounds rather masculine, yet it should be mentioned the sun is considered predominantly masculine. Breathing mountain air while drinking in the light of the sun allowed centuries of ailing patients to restore their health. In the U.S. alone, 127 million people live in coastal counties. Admittedly, the water is a big draw…and so is the sun.

 

THEN & NOW

Even ancient healing modalities recognized the curative properties of the sun. In Chinese Five Element acupuncture, the “stomach meridian” is associated with nurturance, nourishment, and caretaking (of others and the self). The color that heals this meridian is yellow, and one of its modalities is being in the sun. Stomach Meridian issues develop by the caretaking of others to the detriment of oneself, which refers to the maternal instinct when the mother’s needs are not fully met while she supports those around her.

 

In the Ayurvedic chakra system, the fire chakra is located in the solar plexus. Even the name of this chakra refers to the sun. It is masculine and relates to paternal energy and power, and not surprisingly, anger and abuse contribute to this chakra imbalance. A modality we frequently employ for an imbalanced fire chakra is to sit under a tree and let the light filter over your body. Keep your eyes open and allow the direct sun to enter your eyes and continue through your brain. Stay there for about five minutes to begin to feel nourished. The sun also supplies amounts of Vitamin D that we all need to stay healthy. 

The sun’s most significant contribution is as a purveyor of light, and this is why it deserves to be respected. In fact, all the faiths in the world speak and pray about the light. Christianity speaks of being the way and the light. The Hindus have Diwali, their Festival of Lights. Vesak, Buddha’s birthday, is one of Buddhism’s most important holidays. Festival of Lightsin Judaism is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem. These all flow to seeking enlightenment. And there is much, much more to know. So, what are you waiting for this summer? Enjoy the light responsibly and the many ways it can enhance your well-being.

ASCEND INTO WELLNESS

ASCEND INTO WELLNESS

With summer here, there’s an anticipation of what is ahead, according to our intuitive self-help expert, Austin-based Resonance Repatterning Practitioner, Mary Schneider, who explains the importance of anticipating and planning for the future.

A SUMMER PLACE

Summer is most definitely here, yet four days ago, I told an out-of-town friend how gloomy and grey it had been. I fully expected our infamous spate of winter weather to have killed all the local plant life, yet today verdant summer green is everywhere.

 

It is safe to say Mother Nature probably handles change better than the rest of us. And despite her constant changes, we are also still pretty resilient. As we move into the season most beloved by a large segment of the population, we are offered tremendous hope. Nature is a most important aspect of healing in Chinese 5 Element Acupuncture.

Hope is what has carried us through when we were hit this last year with the pandemic and severe weather. The most interesting aspect of hope is it’s the only virtue that shows up in bad times. Hope inspires us to stay focused and strong. It ushers in creativity, enabling us to find new solutions to the problems that confront us. Just like the summer green we see everywhere right now.

Hope sees us beyond to the promise of change, bringing  us to where we are today. This summer heralds much more than its typical pledge of potential growth. Gazing at the foliage and blooms on the trees, we are reminded of our imminent foray into society again. So, there is much transformation ahead.

Of course, we want to remember all of those who have passed and those who have been left behind. Our hearts go out to all of you experiencing grief, which is immense. The changes you encounter at the precipice of this summer are of another kind, like no other in recent memory. The growth potential is also of another nature.

When reflecting on nature, try to focus on change or transition and how we can best help this process along. In the Ayurvedic chakra tradition, change is associated with the Earth or Root chakra. Home, family, tribe, security, and mother are the main issues with this chakra. This past year, much of these influential aspects have been upended in one form or another. We all know that the usual outlets people engage in, such as sports and dining out, have been sidelined. All of this has created the feeling of continuous adaptation. This may be seizing upon the obvious with a sense of discovery, but it has also created layers of stress and a ton of grief.

COPING CAPABILITY

We have lots of coping mechanisms to deal with stress such as exercise, which improves our focus, while drinking alcohol numbs us, or taking drugs to help us sleep–just to name a few. This stress is hard on the body and does not do any better with the psyche. There is nothing wrong with these activities…but the stress still multiplies.

What would be something we all could do to beat the stress? Taking care of ourselves will help the most during these times and we now have an opportunity to learn more about this important lesson. Learning to take care of oneself is somewhat of an art. It is like taking dance lessons. At first, you are a little self-conscious, and then you start to feel how much fun it is.

It is the same with self-care. It may seem aa bit wonky in the beginning, but when you have that moment of realization about how important your well-being is, you wonder why you did not commit to this a long time ago.

A helpful way to start the process is to make a list of all the things you have wanted to do for a long time. Cull out what is reasonable for your lifestyle and put them in your calendar. It might be something as simple as giving yourself a facial. Or calling a loved one or perhaps, cooking yourself a lovely dinner. Do one a day and see what starts to happen. And, then for the pièce de résistance, do one for another person in your life who might appreciate the gesture. 

It is a powerful thing to take care of oneself. We as a culture are not oriented in this direction, and so much has changed. In the middle of this pandemic, we have had the time to learn this expression of self-love better than usual, so today’s a great day to anticipate the future.

BE YOUR OWN RENEWABLE ENERGY

BE YOUR OWN RENEWABLE ENERGY

With spring here, a true sense of renewal has arrived in many forms. Our intuitive self-help expert, Austin-based Resonance Repatterning Practitioner, Mary Schneider, explains the importance of creating the new, while acknowledging the past.

THERE, NOW HERE

Suddenly the promise of this spring brings a feeling of renewal. Difficult, dark days of the pandemic break into a shower of bright blooms. With proper governance and administration, the potential vaccine has given us the signature emotion of spring…hope. As we move into these hopeful days, we see through that long tunnel toward the light. Might the light herald a return to some semblance of normalcy?

 

So much today seems to be springing into freshness–so many new beginnings. The younger generation will be returning to school en masse. There is a new government in Washington. Others are returning to their offices, while some never will again, and people are further re-examining their careers. In the wake of this novelty, much of what we have known simply slips away. The pandemic foisted change upon us, and we wisely responded by letting go. In many cases, we let go of much that we would not have otherwise.

 

In the Ayurvedic chakra system, the throat chakra oversees new beginnings. Interestingly, it also rules letting go. As we are all a part of nature, we are at the same time nature itself. In fact, we are subject to much of that which occurs in it. The trees and plants let go of their bark and leaves so that they will return anew in spring. Humans let go to make way for the new. This throat chakra is also about truth and speaking your truth with courage. Communicating in this way makes people listen so that you can be authentically heard. People are drawn to the truth like moths to a flame. A deep resonance is felt, and no amount of logic or statistic can alter the listener’s belief in that truth. This connection is a profound experience.

 

VENTURE FORWARD

As we venture from learning to let go in service to the pandemic’s demands, then with what are we left? If you’ve ever lost or given something away, you know letting go is a process. Some processes are much easier than others. The more challenging the letting go, the greater the potential for growth. The adage, the harder you work, the greater the return, is very true. Considering the amount of letting go required of us in 2020, we certainly experienced tremendous growth.

 

With growth, often the most fertile soil of the human experience is the family. Our family systems are profound settings of both challenge and resolution. Family members can trigger our emotions, both negative and positive. If we look at these situations as opportunities for growth, then we are using them for our highest good–and also for the benefit of our family members. We all realize that it’s often easier said than done.

 

Don Miguel Ruiz, who authored The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, offers these tips that outline his four agreements:

  • Be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • Don’t make assumptions.
  • Always do your best.

 

The second agreement, Don’t take anything personally, is one answer to family challenges and communication. It is rich with potential and interpretation. As the basis of that agreement, Ruiz helps us to stay out of anybody else’s business. He also wants us to be supportive and keep positive boundaries and limits. When we do not take anything personally, unkind words do not phase us. We feel no compulsion to respond, and that conflict has nowhere to go. It can just fizzle out. Ruiz’s other agreements are also worthy and thought-provoking.

 

With new beginnings, it is beneficial to look at the newness around us. Perhaps we might commit to finding one thing to let go of…and one new thing to bring into our life. Maybe you have already had enough to let go of and enough of the new. This is also perfect for you to have a safe, healthy, and hopeful spring.