Last summer I attended a conference at Samye Ling Buddhist Monastary and retreat centre which was run by the Mindfulness Association in association with the University of Aberdeen. The conference included an array of inspirational speakers as well as a variety of workshops and presentations from students who had completed the MSc in Mindfulness Studies. While it was difficult to pick out a highlight, one workshop that I attended had a profound impact on me. In this session we were invited to reflect on what we love about the world, what we want and what we fear and dislike. We were then invited to consider an action that we could take that may have an impact, however small, in the direction that we would like to support. The result of this was that I pledged to do what I could to support kindness in my local community. I went about this first by creating a page on facebook, kindness and community (north tyneside and beyond). I also reached out to Whitley Bay Big Local, an initiative set up to support the local community about starting a Kind Club.
The philosophy behind Kind Club is that we are all capable of experiencing kindness. When we do experience kindness this is beneficial for our health and also has benefits for our local community through the acts we do and connections we make. Yet in a stressful world it is so easy to forget our natural kindness and respond to life instead with defensiveness. The aim of the club was to support our natural kindness while also aiming to benefit the local community in some small way.
With the support of Sarah at Big Local, I set up an event to include a talk and meditation exercise focused on kindness, followed by a community activity of preparing parcels of basic essentials to be distributed to local people in need. Members of the local community came along to take part.
When it came to the day of the session, I really did need the help and support of the local community. I planned this earlier in the year while working part-time and have since moved to a full time job. To put it mildly, I could have been better organised.
As it turned out I felt that there were benefits to this. When I had to go back home to collect the boxes that I had forgotten, my friend stood in and started the meditation session for me. While I didn't get around to buying toothbrushes, a lovely lady offered to pop out and buy some, while another also paid a visit to the local shops to pick up a few extra missing items. It turned out that I didn't need to be perfect because there were others around to help and fill in.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first Kind Club in Whitley Bay. I hope that others did too, and we were able to donate lots of essential items to our local food bank. I hope now that members of the community will suggest different activities and organisations that we can support. We plan to continue to meet every 2 months, and hopefully start to make some ripples that will continue to be felt in our community and beyond.