By Sasha McLaren, Michael Moore, Bethany Rolston, Claudia Latisnere, Alexis Holmes, and Jeremy Mayall.
Image by Kylie Fisher
As Waikato makes the shift to level 2 and we cease the stockpiling of toilet paper and flour – as a little reminder, we’ve shared our thoughts and feelings on something (other than creativity) that’s a free resource you can access anytime, and never run out of….Kindness.
What does it mean to ‘be kind’?
Sasha: It means being present with our humanity, and connecting to others through our empathy and heart.
Claudia: I relate the word kindness to a word we use a lot in Mexico: apapacho. Which more or less means to embrace with your soul. You know those hugs you get from people you love very much that make you feel in an instant a sense of absolute peace, warmth and love? That’s what being kind is to me, to give yourself or others an apapacho through a hug, words, actions or things.
Bethany: Thinking about others before yourself.
Michael: Being kind for me is going on the self love journey first, the kindness I feel most fulfilled about sharing is the embodied ‘kind’, while an act of kindness is great, nothing beats the genuine expression. You gotta be it, to see it.
Alexis: To me, being kind is simple – don’t be a poopy human. To understand and fully accept we are all different and that is what makes this world interesting.
Jeremy: It is coming from a place of genuine care. I think to be kind is to consider others, to hold space for people, and to be thoughtfully and intentionally mindful of the world around you.
How do you show kindness to others?
Sasha: By being present and listening deeply and consciously to others. Sharing what I have with others – time, money, food, gifts. Baking/making food and sharing it. Sending messages to check in so people know I’m thinking of them. Random acts of love and kindness. By making an effort to understand where others are coming from, how they see the world, and how I can best support them.
Claudia: By giving lots of apapachos! I suppose spending quality time and having heart-to-heart conversations would be my favourite kind of apapacho.
Bethany: Cooking, cuddling and coffee.
Michael: Presence, being there is everything, I often ask how deeply I can show up for others when all the signs are showing they need to be heard, felt and sometimes understood.
Alexis: By listening. Whether it is in conversation or little throw away comments. Sometimes those comments are the ones that can make a difference in someone’s life.
Jeremy: I think this is through time and presence. It’s attempting to be mindful of those around me and to provide support where I can.
How do you show kindness to yourself?
Sasha: Accepting and allowing myself to feel all the feels as they come up. Forgiving myself for making mistakes, failing something, getting it wrong, stuffing up, being a dick – basically being human. Allowing myself to rest – and not fighting the urge to rest, or beat myself up for needing to rest. Allowing myself to play, put down the work and all the tasks/jobs, and play or create for the hell and joy of it. Taking myself to the ocean and other places I love.
Claudia: That can be a tricky one because sometimes we are harder on ourselves. But I try to practice love and acceptance of everything that I am. Warts and all.
Bethany: Thinking about myself before others (sometimes you just gotta).
Michael: I am learning to listen to my body, which has been the hardest component of my Whare Tapa Whaa to show kindness to as an adult. When my body gave up and I missed a contract with the Warriors as a young man, a rift was formed between my perceived self and my body, over the years I have poured an ocean of self doubt stories into that tear. Thus my greatest practice of kindness right now, is forgiving my body and letting it lead me back to supreme health once again.
Alexis: Practicing self care any chance I get! Giving myself time to decompress and chuck on a face mask for 40 minutes.
Jeremy: I’m still learning with this one. I often fill all the space with work, with creating, with projects… and that is certainly fulfilling, but I am also aware of the time I want to spend my family, and the apparent need for sleep… balance is an ever shifting concept. But, I have been enjoying the occasional moments of time in a float tank. That’s a nice time and space to disconnect from the things and reconnect with the self.
How important is showing kindness?
Sasha: Being human can be messy and fraught, tricky and painful – and we’re all in it together. When we feel connected though kindness we can soften into ourselves and into our connectedness (and connectivity is a basic and essential human need).
Kindness allows space and warmth and a softening of the heart – to both the giver and receiver.
Claudia: It feels so good and it’s good for you. Both giving it and receiving it.
Bethany: If we weren’t kind, we might kill each other.
Michael: Because it brings us into harmony with ourselves, others and the world we live in.
Alexis: It helps us to be understood, supported and respected.
Jeremy: It is how we meaningfully express care for our world and the fellow inhabitants of it.
When do you think we need to show the most kindness?
Sasha: When the need is there – when we see someone struggling. But actually, it’s not always possible to see or know what’s going on for other people in their hearts and minds. I don’t always get it right, but I do try to be kind in all my interactions with others.
Claudia: When we are vulnerable.
Bethany: When it feels most difficult to be kind.
Michael: As often as we can, I’m a hopeless poetic romantic who believes that kindness is our natural state of being. For me, kindness and compassion sit at our core, they are compelling modes of love that break the mold of proletariat living and draw us nearer to the complete human experience.
Alexis: At all times! Every day of our lives. If we all lived the lessons of the book “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” (thanks Jeremy and Courteney) we would learn that kindness isn’t just a fleeting moment or something we should do once in a while.
Jeremy: Consistently. But certainly in times of chaos and intense need. To demonstrate kindness is to stand up for human goodness and care. To have a hopeful view of human nature goes against the stories that are consistently told in the news. We can choose to demonstrate care and compassion. We can be a rejuvenating breath of kindness in moments of darkness.
Can you remember an act of kindness that stuck with you?
Sasha: Of course. I remember many instances, and often they are simple gestures.
Like recently, on my second day of my new job, it was raining when I went to go home – pissing down. I walked out the main doors and looked up at the dark sky. Then I looked towards the direction of my car in the carpark, and hesitated. At that very moment a work colleague (that I’d only just met) walked towards me and smiled. She opened up her umbrella, and insisted on walking me all the way to my car under the shelter of her giant umbrella. Whenever I think of that act of kindness I feel warm, grateful and soft.
Claudia: Oh there’s too many. I wouldn’t be able to pick just one. People are very kind, wouldn’t you agree?
Bethany: My lovely neighbour is one of the kindest humans I know, regularly checking in on us and offering goodies from his garden (not just during lockdown, but all year round).
Michael: My Mum is a living act of kindness, her example will always ‘stick’ with me.
Alexis: Backstage before an opening night performance and having a cast truly thank you. I will never forget the feeling of being so fulfilled and happy to have incredible people in my life.
Jeremy: I think to the selfless giving of my parents. I think to the care my son consistently demonstrates to those around him. I think to the beautiful words of a class of young poets, sharing their powerful and moving words about kindness.
If you can’t be kind….
Sasha: Then you need to work on yourself and find ways to soften and open your own heart – generally I believe that if people can’t be kind to themselves, they can’t be kind to others.
Claudia: Everybody can be kind <3
Bethany: Then go home (in the kindest way possible).
Michael: If you can’t be kind, look inward first, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned, forgiveness to be had or shared, or a need to let go of something that no longer serves.
Alexis: In the words of a very wise woman I know… “Fit in or *stuff* off”
Jeremy: Stop. Take a few breaths. Consider what you can do in that situation.
Any other thoughts?
Sasha: Showing kindness to self through acceptance, love and forgiveness – as well as giving yourself permission to dance, rest, play, create – is super super important.
Bethany: The word ‘kind’ is starting to look more and more bizarre, and all I can think of is a Kinder Surprise. Brb, going to panic buy some of those now… that’s showing kindness to myself, right?