01/20/2015 11:29 am ET Updated Mar 22, 2015

The Secret Medicine of Heartbroken Kindness

It is easy to be kind when we are feeling wonderful about life, when we're feeling buoyantly inspired, or luminous in love, or poignantly connected to the mysterious pulse of existence, isn't it? After great sex, or a great meal, or a great day of feeling successful in our endeavors, it's natural to radiate kindness. It's easy to gesture kind offers and kind words when we ourselves are feeling moved by life's blessings, when we are standing in authentic gratitude for all that is lovely and good in the world. When we are reveling in the light of our own bounty, generosity of spirit comes easily, doesn't it? When we are feeling deeply held by life it is so natural to extend that gracious holding to others.

But what about when we are feeling utterly heartbroken by life's relentless intensity? What about the dark-soul-nights of meeting vacant faithlessness and deep, fathomless sorrow? What about when we aren't getting our way in life, when it feels like we are meeting one closed door after another? What about when our survival issues are up and we feel deeply triggered and tight-hearted? Or when we feel lonely, grief-stricken, betrayed, or abandoned by God? When we feel rejected, forgotten, unchosen or unloved by another?

What about when we are feeling like an utter failure at this thing called Life? Called Relationship? Called Adulthood? Called Making Money? Called Responsibility? What then, for kindness? I notice when I am deeply challenged myself, it is natural to actually embody that challenge, to transparently emanate the energy I myself am grappling with; to have my words and actions reflect the grief, anger, or fear I am working with... and thus to actually create more suffering with my suffering.

There is a secret medicine in choosing kindness at the core of broken-hearted faithlessness. To be kind, still, even when we are scared, uncomfortable, and not liking our experience. Even when we don't know how we will find our way back to some semblance of peace or joy or trust, still -- to be kind, to be kind(?!) -- what a powerful choosing. How radical: to be kind to ourselves at the heart of failure.

To be kind, still, to our children, our partners, our friends, our co-humans, earth's creatures, our own bodies, when our hearts feel hardened by the real hardship of life. What a secret treasure: to be kind to our pain and our struggles, kind to the meanness we feel inside, kind to the exhaustion. NOT inauthentically kind, no. Not "putting on a happy face" or "keeping it positive." Please, please: no spiritual bypasses.

I'm not talking about feeling kindness to the exclusion of truly feeling our utterly broken heart. I'm talking about finding it within us to not let what's devastating us distract us from the possibility of being kind -- to ourselves and those around us.

This is the holy challenge I have been posing to myself, and extend now to you: When you are not getting what you want, not even close, and all your issues are up, and no light can be spotted at the end of the tunnel, and it is difficult even to take a deep breath, or feel any humor or joy: is it possible still to find the inspiration to be kind? To be kindness itself? Try it and see. I think you'll be as moved as I am.