We have almost reached the last Reiki principle, this time we are looking at “Just for today be kind to all living things”.

By this point in our series of Reiki principles you are perhaps noticing the underlying concept – that we are all connected. The new world of quantum physics is opening up deeper understanding of energy and the fact that we are all intrinsically linked.

This principle invites us to look at the concept of being connected – what we do to others we do to ourselves so be kind to all people – and that includes you!

Do you consider yourself to be a kind person? What is kindness? According to Wikipedia, kindness is “a behaviour marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others.” Another definition is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”.

It is relatively easy to be kind to those whom we love and to those whom we respect. It is not so easy to be kind to those whom we have difficulty with! However, Usui doesn’t say “Be kind to some of the people some of the time” – he says “Be kind to all living things”, sometimes translated as “Be kind to all people”.

I prefer the “all living things” translation because I feel that we should practice kindness and consideration towards animals and plants and not just other people. I feel we are all connected and therefore kindness should be the foundation upon which we build our lives – it costs nothing to be kind!

So what about these people that perhaps push our buttons – those to whom we find it difficult to practice kindness?

Some teachings say that what irritates us most about someone is often a mirror image of what we don’t like about ourselves. This one is a hard one to hear! For example – if you dislike someone because they are overly critical or judgemental does that mean that perhaps you criticise or judge people too? This is where the last principle comes into action – do your work honestly. So be honest with yourself – would that be the case?

Sometimes our belief patterns and thinking can get in the way of us being kind. Fear, guilt, resentment and criticism stop us from being kind. These emotions and limiting belief patterns keep us stuck in a negative spiral where we feel like the victim. If you notice that you are in this loop then it is time to break free from it! No more being the victim – switch out the negatives and choose to be more positive.

As I stated right back at the start of this series of articles, we always have a choice in how we think, feel and behave. It is easy to fall prey to victim mentality but that stops you from experiencing the powerful healing benefits of positivity and kindness.

It is time to create a more positive, compassionate and tolerant world don’t you think?

It all starts with you! In the UK we are at a disadvantage because we have been brought up to be reined in and restrained. We find it hard to be positive about ourselves or to express ourselves in a loving way. The British stiff upper lip has a lot to answer for!

Religion has a part to play too. I was brought up in a Christian household and often heard the verse, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. I think, however, that the focus was always on the first part of that sentence and the emphasis was to always put others first.

It appeared to be the “Christian thing to do” – to put others first and to love them more than we loved ourselves.

That is not what it says though! It says “Love your neighbour as yourself” – in other words as you love yourself. So do you love yourself?

I think this is a concept that we all struggle with, particularly in Northern Ireland. It seems to be a cultural thing to always put yourself down and lift others up. We are pretty useless at accepting compliments and praise – aren’t we?

If I asked you to give me a list of all the brilliant things about you, could you do it easily? For a lot of people it is easier to provide a list of negative things and be really self-critical rather than praise ourselves.

It is almost like we are ashamed of our brilliance. It is seen as “big-headed” to praise yourself or to be proud of your own achievements but why?

We are ALL valuable and we ALL have a role to play. Each of us is brilliantly unique and we all have our divine inner light to shine. We need to acknowledge how important we are as well as acknowledging and respecting others.

Marianne Williamson writes, in “A Return to Love”,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, or fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the Universe that is within us. It is not just in some of us – it is in everyone!

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others!”

I love this quote. It really sums up my beliefs and encompasses what I feel Reiki is all about. For me, Reiki is about shining your light and thus encouraging others to shine theirs.

I struggled for a long time with loving myself. I felt it was somehow wrong or inappropriate to care deeply for myself. Reiki helped me heal that limiting belief. I began to see that I had a duty of care for myself. I needed to love and respect myself so that I was available to love and respect other people.

I learned that it was important to be nice to myself, to care for my body and mind, to care for my deepest soul desires, to take time out for myself – that I wasn’t being selfish at all!

One of my favourite phrases is, “You cannot give from an empty vessel”. If you are constantly being kind to everyone else and running about pleasing other people while not taking care of yourself, you will eventually burn out. You will fall apart because you are constantly giving and not receiving – you are out of balance.

I see this all the time in my practice. People will come to me for help with stress, emotional disorders or problems and it usually boils down to the fact that they simply are not taking enough care of themselves.

Having time out for yourself is not selfish – it is a necessity. Looking back to that verse from earlier – we are told to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. So … if you are not looking after yourself and you do not love yourself in any way then how can you love someone else in the same way? It doesn’t make sense does it?

So take the time out – I have learned that I need a lot of time in solitude. I need to give myself the gift of regular walks in nature, good coffee, good books and the precious time to write, paint, meditate or cook in order to feel balanced. Without these things I become stressed and then I cannot help others.

The more you care for yourself, the more you will find that you naturally are more willing to care for others. If you feel put upon and stressed out by your responsibilities and you are reluctantly “caring” for someone while pushing your needs to the side, you are not actually being kind to them or you! You are acting out of a sense of duty rather than kindness and that is not the same thing at all.

When you begin to give yourself the love, respect, care and attention that you need you increase your happiness factor. This in turn then increases your energy vibration and you have a ripple effect outwards. You begin to have more energy and you want to help others. You learn to say no when it doesn’t feel right and learn to say yes when it does.

As you then practice kindness you notice that what goes around comes around! The kinder you are the more you will receive kindness back – particularly to yourself! The Dalai Lama says,

“When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for but it helps us to develop inner happiness and peace.”

Very wise words indeed. So how do we put this into practice?

Be of service – do something helpful or useful every day for someone. It may be as simple as helping someone lift a heavy bag, donating to a good cause or holding a door open.

Give affection – we all want to be loved and cared for, so tell the people around you that you love them and you care for them. Hug your partner, your kids and your friends.

Laugh! Laughter really is the best form of medicine and laughing together is a sure fire way of increasing the vibration in a room. This is the sound of kindness!

Be grateful – like you have seen before in the Living with Gratitude article, write thank you notes, send kind emails and messages, pick up the phone and speak with someone – make an effort to be kind.

Compliment people – and mean it! Accept compliments when they are given to you – when you reject a compliment it is like throwing a gift back at someone. You are de-valuing their opinion and their effort to be kind by rejecting their words, so the next time get a compliment simply say “thank you!”

Offer a listening ear – how often do you really listen to what is being said. Most of the time when we talk to others, we are thinking about what we are going to say next, rather than listening to them. When you take the time to really listen, you are being kind and compassionate. Often this is all someone needs – someone to listen.

Take time out for yourself. Make time for solitude and meditation. Make time for walks or long baths. Read your favourite book or magazine. Have a decent cup of coffee and take a break.

Being kind and compassionate is a beautiful way to be. The more you practice it the more you shine your light and that encourages others to do the same. It is not always easy but you can work on the difficult people too! Use a meditative practice whereby you visualise being kind to yourself. See yourself smiling at yourself, treating yourself to a gift or walking out in nature.

Next, take the vision outwards and visualise yourself being kind and compassionate to someone you respect – perhaps a teacher or colleague.  Feel the warmth of loving kindness emanate from your being and allow it to encompass the other person.

Next, think about someone you love and repeat the process. Feel the warmth rise up and engulf the other person as you visualise love and kindness sweeping over you both.

Finally think about someone you have difficulty with. See yourself smiling at this person and them smiling back. Begin to see their light shine and glow as you offer them love, compassion and kindness.

Working with these meditative techniques and visualisations can really help you deal with difficult people. Nobody is asking you to be a doormat – always be assertive but always be kind. Reflect on your positive qualities and reflect on theirs. Begin to see things from a higher perspective and you will notice the changes.

Live well, be kind and be Reiki.