Since I have set my intention to meditate most every day, I find that my open mind has opened the door to ideas, images, thoughts, and feelings I might not otherwise have known. It is a window to self-discovery that is so enlightening and exhilarating.
So, while I was meditating the other day, three seemingly benign and unrelated things came to my mind - chickpeas, artichokes, and the word, "kindness." What do these 3 things have in common? Well, honestly, I'm not sure, but let's discover it together...
The other day our Live Free Yoga leadership team decided to have lunch together at one of our favorite Kabob restaurants near me in Plano, Texas called, Sofra Kabob House. It is owned by a lovely Turkish man named Ray who has been struggling to stay open during the pandemic. Like so many restaurants, he can't find help, so he works 6 days a week all day by himself trying to provide for his family and serve his customers in the best way possible. No matter what his circumstances are, we are always greeted with a warm smile.
Ray has, hands down, the-best-homemade-hummus on the planet (at least in my world!). What is the main ingredient in hummus? You guessed it, chickpeas.
So, I'm thinking that chickpeas represents joy. The joy of eating something delicious, created by a human being who made it with love and the passion to serve.
This is definitely a weird one. But the more I think about it, the more I think it has to do with the joy I didn't receive in Costco when I saw a jar of artichoke hearts that I've been wanting to buy, but never do. Something in me denies myself the pleasure of purchasing an item I truly want.
Why is that? Why would I not want to purchase the artichoke hearts? Every time I pass by it in the aisle I think to myself, "mmm, I'd love to buy that," but I never do. As I write this I am reminded that my mom used to buy them when I was a kid. I loved the taste and the texture of the artichokes marinating in the seasoned oil. But in those moments when I walk down that particular aisle, something in me feels I need to sacrifice my own desire.
Now I might be stretching it a bit, but at the very least, meditation revealed something that helped me know myself a little better. Artichokes made me curious about why I would deny myself something that would bring me a little joy. I need to tell myself that I am worthy, even if it is for those small pleasures. You can be sure that on my next trip to Costco I'm getting those artichokes, because I am worth it!
This came to me simply as a word, not as an act of kindness. So, I started looking into it, and discovered that this month on November 13th it is World Kindness Day. Coincidence?? Maybe, maybe not. You may or may not know this, but there are actual scientific studies that show when others observe kindness in action, they are more likely to carry out an act of kindness too.
One NIH (National Institutes of Health) study looked at the effects of 7-day kindness activities, which revealed that performing acts of kindness boosts happiness and well-being. That includes kindness to self and others. Remember the artichokes?
And then there's the ripple effect of kindness. When you, for example, give a compliment to someone, you make them feel happier. When they are happy, they are more inclined to treat others with kindness and compassion, and then the domino effect continues. Showing kindness and compassion for one person can impact an entire community.
Meditation = Awakening
So, three seemingly unrelated things actually have something in come. Joy. Bringing joy to ourselves and others is good for us and all of humanity.
When you create time in your day for a mindfulness practice such as meditation, you awaken the light within you. That light is self-awareness. To know yourself is the first step to change what isn't serving you to creating a life filled with all that you desire for yourself and others. You can change the world for the better one meditation at a time.
Awaken the light within you...click below to learn about our Lighter Being video mindfulness series and begin to make the change you desire.
Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.
Photo by Kathy Tran