Sanctuary Living by THE YOGA SCHOOL

Meditate / Wellbeing

CONVERSATIONS AT THE SANCTUARY: Acts of Kindness

By The Yoga School / August 17, 2020

Our teachers on how the goodwill of others has impacted their lives.

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to be kind. Obscured by worry, frustration, anger, or even resentment, our innate sense of kindness can sometimes take a backseat. However, our reserve of kindness is not so much a finite reservoir as it is a forest of trees that continues to expand and grow. Training our minds to be kinder, more understanding, and slow to judgement is one way to build positive relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, and others around us. Below, Catherine, Jian Yuan, and Ryan take the time to reflect on acts of kindness they have given and received.

Catherine

Tell us about an act of kindness that has positively impacted your life. Who delivered this act? Why was it meaningful or memorable?

More than an act of kindness, I would say I was privileged to have received many acts of kindness. It could be a simple check-in or word of encouragement from a friend during a difficult time; silent companionship when words weren’t necessary; offers to link me up to work; as well as surprise gifts of things I needed. It is difficult to list only one act because they are all valuable. These acts were particularly meaningful because they came from the hearts of people who understood and didn’t ask for anything in return.

Describe an act of kindness you have done for either yourself or someone else. What struggles, if any, did you have to overcome to perform this act of kindness?

When it comes to performing acts of kindness, I belong to the school of thought where the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. Hence, I prefer to do such things quietly or with as little fanfare as possible.

Instead of describing something I’ve done, I would prefer to say that kindness doesn’t always involve money or giving. Sometimes, simply refraining from judging people, respecting their choices, and having a softer tongue can also be acts of kindness. These actions would require us to hold back on being quick to make assumptions or accept that people may not always agree or think the same way we do. Overcoming our perceptions can be very challenging but it is also a great way to practise.

Join Catherine for a Hatha Flow class every Tuesday from 6.45 pm – 7.45 pm. 

Jian Yuan

Tell us about an act of kindness that has positively impacted your life. Who delivered this act? Why was it meaningful or memorable?

A memorable act of kindness I experienced recently was when someone I knew on a superficial level initially started sharing with me his thoughts, opinions, hopes, and dreams in an unselfish and unguarded manner. It was the extending of a friendship, of a quality I had not experienced in a very long time. I found myself profoundly struck by his candour, and his trust and confidence in me (I even thought to myself privately, early on, “isn’t he afraid I would betray his trust?”).

That got me reflecting on my own experiences and how it shaped my outlook right up to the recent past – that because of past negative experiences, I became wary and guarded, and found myself censoring my own thoughts and opinions about various things. Thanks to this new friend and his kindness towards me (trusting me enough to share while truly listening to me without judgment), I now tell myself that I should try to practise trusting people again, bringing them into my inner circle, sharing more of myself (the authentic self, and not any egoic persona) with them, just because. Through this episode, I learnt that kindness could mean simply trusting enough to share, and listening without judgment.

Describe an act of kindness you have done for either yourself or someone else. What struggles, if any, did you have to overcome to perform this act of kindness?

An act of kindness I have done for myself is to allow myself to stand in the position of a mentor to someone else (in this case, my junior colleagues). Up until recently, I’ve always felt more comfortable being guided and sheltered by a mentor of my own. But with the passing of time and with experience, I’ve found that I can be in a position to share the little things I know with my junior colleagues, if nothing else, to make their life at work a little bit easier, or to give them a different perspective on why they are doing what they do.

I feel the struggle I had to overcome to perform these acts of kindness is a mental struggle – that I’m mentoring them on an unofficial basis, that this is an unpaid job, that I don’t get any credit or plaudits for this. But at the end of the day, when I recognised that kindness should be given without any expectation of recognition or reward, I came to the realisation that I should continue doing what I set out to do and be kind whenever I can.

Flow with Jian Yuan every Wednesday from 7 pm – 8 pm and join him for a restorative Yin class on Saturday mornings from 9.30 am – 10.30 am. 

Ryan

Tell us about an act of kindness that has positively impacted your life. Who delivered this act? Why was it meaningful or memorable?

In 2009, I went with a group of friends to Paris just after we embarked on a school trip to London. This was an era where we were still largely reliant on physical maps and we got somewhat lost trying to locate Galeries Lafayette, a popular shopping mall. Since we didn’t speak French and had heard that the locals could be aloof at times, we sheepishly approached an elderly couple for help. They were not only very friendly but they even walked us to the vicinity! We made conversation along the way even though each of us couldn’t speak the other party’s language. However, we somehow understood what was being communicated. They even told us they had been to Southeast Asia and loved it.

This incident changed the way I look at travelling. We are often coloured by stereotypes of a country’s culture and we bring that mindset along with us abroad. But I realised that generalisations detaches one from being fully present and sometimes even creates a biased opinion and unfounded sense of fear. The elderly couple’s act of kindness opened our (then) young minds to experience things without prior judgement, freeing us to better see and appreciate the goodness around us.

Describe an act of kindness you have done for either yourself or someone else. What struggles, if any, did you have to overcome to perform this act of kindness?

About a year or two ago, I was walking home from the MRT station when it started to pour heavily. As I approached a cross junction, a lady was standing by the traffic light without an umbrella. My immediate thought was to share my umbrella with her but the introvert in me held back for a bit. The rain continued to get heavier and I knew I had to break out of my comfort zone. I ended up walking her back to her HDB block, which happened to be in the same row as mine. We even had a little chat and the entire experience certainly made the otherwise cold stormy night a little warmer.

New to yoga? Join Ryan every Thursday from 7 pm – 8 pm as he guides you through the basics. 
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