Little acts of kindnessSarah Cavanagh
Little acts of kindness through cards
The first meditation class I went to, about twenty years ago, ended with the teacher passing round a little tin. Inside were lots of different cards, about the size of a matchbox. Each of the cards had one coloured word printed on it. But not just any word. These words were part of a new language I was about to learn over the next two decades and beyond. The language of the heart and soul.
Words like Positivity, Farsightedness, Caring. Words that I had only read in the context of some abstract poems, or traditional literature or perhaps new psychology. Words that I could find in the dictionary, certainly, but defined in cold, clinical terms.
As I continued with my meditation classes, this whole new world of the heart and soul began to open up to me. A world full of these words to be savoured, kept close, made real, acted out. Ancient words, full of power, richness, meaning and depth. Words like ‘appreciation’, ‘self-respect’, ‘courage’, truth’. ‘Beauty’, positivity’, ‘farsighted’, ‘caring’.
Our homework each week was to take a word and redefine it in the language of the heart and soul. Then apply it to our everyday lives and see what we felt, how it worked, what did it really mean?
Do I actually have any ‘beauty‘ in my life? If I am full of ‘positivity‘ do I have to wander around all the time with a smile on my face, a bit false? What on earth does ‘farsighted‘ mean in the context of the soul? Does the soul have eyes? How can I apply ‘caring‘, in a world where I might need to suppress my feelings in case I am rejected?
Each of these little cards held an invitation, a challenge sometimes, to think and live differently. And it was my job to unpack, work out and apply these new understandings to my life. I relished it, fascinated and motivated by what I was learning.
I was so inspired that I made my own little cards. A whole winter of dark nights was spent cutting little pieces of coloured card, cosy by the fire, candles glowing, soft music in the background. Surrounded by books of wisdom, I chose my favourite words and a definition for each one that now meant something more to me. I found a beautiful little box and I kept my cards in it. I picked a new one every day and took it to work, placing it on my desk as a reminder to take a moment here and there and bring clarity and meaning to my activities.
One day a colleague saw my little card and was fascinated by it. I gave it to her and she was thrilled! Thrilled to be given such a tiny thing. Thrilled by the gifting of it, by the uniqueness and the beauty of it. So the next day I took another into work and that one went to someone else. By the following week, I had taken my whole box in, and each lunchtime a little crowd would come and swop their cards. It always felt like we were choosing a little chocolate; anticipation and certainty of the feel good factor but with none of the calories!
Over time, in the way that subtle, beautiful acts of kindness often move and grow, we began to talk about the ethos in our workplace. We set up a little project to care more for each other. We would pick a name out of a hat and be the guardian angel for that person for a few weeks.
I would come into work and find my computer already booted up and a coffee standing ready. Or back from a meeting at the end of the day to find my room tidied up, everything away and in order. I was being cared for! I was being thought about! I didn’t know when or where my guardian angel would strike next!
And as a guardian angel to someone else, it was even better to give and do invisible random kind things without anyone knowing. I had a super power and all it took was few minutes of kindness every day.
Do you know this feeling. It’s the best in the world, is it not? When we begin to really understand the language of the soul, the best of the ourselves really, beautiful things happen, do they not?
Now, twenty years later, those first little cards are long gone and I have made many more sets as gifts for friends and family. My evenings are often still spent at those meditation classes I mentioned at the beginning, though these days it’s my honour to pass round the tin!
Fortunately I can now buy similar little cards quite easily! They are the Self Mastery Cards. In a little box. One word and one beautiful definition in the language of the soul. New words, new meaning, fresh insights to be unpacked and applied to life.
I still carry them around with me. They come in packs of 52! So I use them as a book mark, or a gift tag or slide them into a birthday card. And I still leave them out on my desk for others to find and take away if they want. A tiny gift, beautifully defined, in the language of the soul.