It goes without saying that harming others does not a friendly community make. With one-minute mindfulness, we can begin to refrain from doing harm while cultivating love and good relations. When we live with this value, we honor all with whom we share the air and other natural resources, as well as all those who will inherit the seeds we plant today. Such is the sentiment echoed in my poem “Friendship Field.”
Each spring I plant a friendship field
with seeds of loving-kindness.
Every day I nurture my field
with caring words, actions, joys, and hopes.
I water it often with
compassionate action and laughter.
Come harvest time,
my field overflows with enough friendship
to warm and sustain me,
during even the darkest,
Four Ways to Plant Your Friendship Field
Here are four ways in which you can mindfully plant your own friendship field one minute at a time.
First, notice your negative impulses, which means accepting and recognizing that you can’t force yourself to be kind and loving all of the time. Even Mother Teresa’s path was filled with doubt. If you notice a harmful emotion or thought, take a minute to breathe and investigate what caused it. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
Second, spend a minute saying a prayer for a difficult person or situation in your life. When we pray for others, we feel compassion for the circumstances that make them who they are. This may help you gain more understanding and empathy.
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Third, plant seeds of friendship by helping and cherishing others, even in little ways. It is the small actions that let others know they are loved and valued, and small actions only take a minute. Take to heart the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote in a letter,
“It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable. If it were not for that, for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters...I should be inclined to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit.”
Finally, strive to let go of your expectations about the way people should act. Instead of getting frustrated, accept that all individuals are imperfect and subject to ignorance, confusion, and delusion. Then give as much as you feel capable of giving from your heart, without demanding anything in return. Give freely to others. And you never know from what direction friendship may come, so plant one-minute seeds of love and kindness wherever you happen to be.
PRACTICE: QUALITIES FOR DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIP
Make a list of the qualities you feel are important for developing friendship, such as loyalty, dependability, listening, trust, acceptance, and so on. Embody these qualities one minute at a time to cultivate and grow your friendship field.
©2011. Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com
One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World
by Donald Altman.
About the Author
Donald Altman is a psychotherapist and former Buddhist monk. Born in Chicago, he now resides in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at Portland State University as an adjunct faculty member of the Interpersonal Neurobiology Program, and is an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. Donald also serves on the board of directors of "THE CENTER FOR MINDFUL EATING." In his own words: "I believe it only takes a few grains of mindfulness each day to deepen enjoyment in daily life, and I have seen how it has changed lives in a positive way... one moment at a time!" In addition to bringing practical mindfulness skills and strategies to anyone wanting a less chaotic life, Donald also travels around the country teaching therapists and professionals how to use clinical mindfulness interventions for anxiety, depression, and stress. Visit his website http://www.mindfulpractices.com.