Cultivating Gentleness

Cultivating Gentleness
L. Lemos, Flickr/CC "Wild Gentleness"






It’s not just schools that often lack gentleness. Workplaces can rub us raw too, as can public transit, shopping malls, restaurants, and daycare. The levels of noise, advertising, and stressed-out people dealing with other stressed-out people can leave us feeling bombarded and drained.

Creating more spaces of refuge, like public parks, is one option. But another option is to integrate gentleness into all our spaces and daily interactions. It could be something as small as turning down the music in cafés. Or as radical as a mother making the commitment to care for herself with as much tenderness as she does her family.

[and at the end of the day]…

It is me saying to myself: “I’m so in awe of you, I must treat you as if I truly understood what noble means.” It is me saying to others: “I get it. We’re wounded and taking a thousand risks simply by showing up. And I see that. I honor you.” 

Andréana E. Lefton

Ms. Lefton writes about gentleness and how essential it is to a healthy human life.  She acknowledges that sometimes creating the physical or circumstantial changes that will allow for a calm and gentle flow to our days just isn’t possible in the short term.  So many times it just isn’t simple to simplify and cut things out.  Sometimes it isn’t so simple to cultivate a calm foundation when our life situation remains turbulent on the surface.  Sometimes even when we want more natural and quiet spaces there is just too much concrete to chip through in one lifetime.

But she reminds us that we can invite that gentle energy in anytime by taking opportunities to look for ways to create space – space that gives gentleness room to seep into the fabric of our days and inform our choices.  And she reminds us that we can honor ourselves and our experiences by being vulnerable and accepting support – and that we can honor everyone we encounter by showing up with full presence, listening with compassion and offering encouragement over criticism. 

Davide Casane, Flickr/CC

Davide Casane, Flickr/CC

Gentleness forms the under-song of survival — the hidden face of evolution, wars, famine — and the partner of resilience. It is the loving touch that reminds us we are not alone, and there is hope. There is healing.  Gentleness exists between people. And it dwells within each of us.

How do you cultivate gentleness within yourself?  When encountering others?  Is it enough to say I see you and I accept what I see…?