If I, or you, were to teach a class on kindness, how to be kind, how would we conduct that class? To begin it would be necessary to give an introduction as to what was meant by kindness. Perhaps, even before that short speech, we could stand at the entry door to the event and greet each individual coming through the entrance in a kindly manner.
What does a kindly greeting consist of? It begins with a glance, a turning toward the newly arriving person, the presenting of a friendly facial expression, an open facial acknowledgment of our approaching one another, a friendly accepting verbal greeting, such as, “Welcome! I am so happy you came to our class.” An offering of a greeting hand combined with a statement of your name, “My name is Charles Scamahorn. “Hello, my name is John Doe.” “I am so glad you could attend our gathering Mister Doe. Please be seated wherever you would feel comfortable.”
That is a formalized form of a standard greeting at the door, but for every occasion, there will be something similar and probably routine. If you think about these routine encounters you can understand better what you need to do, and thus learn to do it better. For a class on kindness, the greeter can intentionally choose to set the tone toward friendly helpfulness for the rest of the meeting.
The introductory speech can make the point that we want to help the people present to develop the ability to respond kindly with ease and spontaneity. This isn’t intended to be an abstract lecture only, rather it is intended to give you personal experience with the techniques for being kind and some easy practice at being kind.
First there will be a description of a typical kind act, like a friendly greeting, which we will perform. Basically, this will be the kind of greeting that you encountered when coming in the door. There will be a demonstration of this typical greeting, which you probably have already done yourself many times. The difference in these examples is that they will be done in a consciously friendly way. They will be very easy, and we repeat these exercises a few times until they become an introduction to a habit.
Let us begin by watching these two actors perform a simple greeting. (That will be done physically).
That was easy. Now, close your eyes and imagine yourself as Mike the actor in the white shirt walking up to Jack Black, the person in the black shirt, and saying what Mike said and did: “Hello, My name is -Mike- (your name). Imagine Jack saying, “Hi, My name is Jack Black.” Now in your mind, hold out your hand with a greeting feeling, and saying, “I’m happy to meet you, Mister Black.” On the first meeting with a person it is okay, even proper, to use a more formal greeting. After this first greeting it is polite to speak to them using their first name, unless it is an older person in a position of authority, then keep using the formal Mister Black.
We will practice this greeting in our imagination a few times and then discuss briefly what happened. Then we will do it a few more times, and once again discuss what happened.
We can do three different short sequences like this with actors performing a simulated situation that would typically follow from a simple greeting. Then we could form inner and outer circles of five people each and step forward doing the first greeting just like we imagined. After five encounters we would be facing the person we met a minute before, and then practice our greeting to them again, but with an acknowledgment that we know them, and the greeting would be slightly more expanded. We could do this a third time with a bit more welcoming.
This is how we can begin the kindness classes, and then move onto some examples of training for kind actions.