According to Dr David Hamilton, an act of kindness produces the hormone oxytocin which in turn causes the release of chemicals to reduce blood pressure and combat stress damage. These physiological changes create an atmosphere of bonding.
Acts of kindness
My mother said “I am with you” as I explained my PhD proposal to her on unconventional wisdom for well-being. I was used to feeling tension on this subject, but as I communicated in an honest and heartfelt way I was surprised to find that she was on my side. Her tone was soft, her gaze was gentle and we later hugged. I don’t need her approval to be happy, but it makes a difference.
“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver
I noticed a few lovely moments this week. An evening in with a friend’s family – eating pizza, playing a board game and drinking hot chocolate. Around the table at tea break with colleagues – feeling supported in my low mood with no pressure to talk, listening to the conversation with gratitude. A heart to heart with a friend – discussing the important things, holding little back, connecting with something beyond us. Continue reading
Over the next while, I want to focus my energy on writing about interactions with people who show compassion, generosity and kindness in everyday life. In doing so, I hope to become more aware of such moments when they are happening, which can often be missed if I am not attentive to the stirrings in my heart. I begin by focusing on two special moments.
Burst of encouragement
Firstly, I recall when a writer showed me the publication of his latest book one day. He wanted to share the good news with me after his hard grafting and work over many months to make it happen. I had already read some of his writing and was keen to find out more. The best thing about his good news for me was when he declared spontaneously, “You can write a book too!” Continue reading
We all have a need to ponder, to pause, to reflect, to notice. It is in our blood as human beings. I mean, how human would we be if we were constantly going from A to B to C without resting in the depth of our hearts?
About ten years ago I was walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with a couple of companions I met along the way. They both stopped and started to gaze at something in the woods. I was baffled and asked them what they were looking at. They told me they were looking at the light around the trees. I laughed out loud and mocked them because to me it was just light and trees. Continue reading
“Let your life be one big Hallelujah!”
How lucky we are to be on this planet and how ungrateful we are too. I mean, if you think about it, we are presented with so many gifts each day – people, places and things – but we clearly do not fully appreciate that we have more than enough, more than what is needed to be healthy and happy. I am a desperately miserable person in this regard. At the end of the day, I give thanks for as much as I can think of, but the list seldom goes beyond my number of fingers. Yet, when I am truly connected, I see my life like a whole department store of blessings and graces each and every day. Continue reading
I’ve been reflecting lately on the state of our relationships. I think it is fair to say that we all have a degree of harmony and disharmony with others. There is a smoothness with those we get on well with; there is a synchronising of heart rhythms when we are together. We trust each other, love each other and care for each other. We create a homely atmosphere wherever we may be: at a coffee shop, in the work canteen, in the park. Conversely, we feel tension and frustration with those we don’t see eye to eye with: our heart rhythms repel when we are together. We are vigilant and on guard for any verbal attacks. We are cautious and don’t share too much. We are happy to see each other’s backs. Isn’t it a curious thing? How can we grow in wisdom and love? Continue reading
In the midst of my challenges, I am tempted to panic and say, “I am out of here. This is too much. I can’t do it.” But then I remember what my practice of Zen is teaching me: “Complete things, Gavin. Follow them through, whether it is education, apprenticeships or new year’s resolutions”. Continue reading