From Coffin to Cloister

The trip from Southern California to Ahmedabad India is 29 hours, door to door….

Years ago, I had a job as the Cat Handler for a Broadway Tour .  We flew someplace every few weeks.  I was afraid of flying so I turned to Bloody Marys as medicine.  I’m not a good drinker.  The Cat Star, her Cat Understudy, and I and would all be cranky upon arrival.

Later, I “evolved” into prayer.  I monitored all the potentially hazardous sounds of the plane and labored to convince God to keep things aloft.

Eventually I learned to surrender and relax.  Still, 29 hours is a long time.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the flight.

Then I remembered an experience with Nipun Mehta.

Nipun visits our Spiritual Center about once a year.  He generally gives a talk and holds a Q & A after the service.  One year, the Q & A went something like this:

Congregant A:  I’m having trouble in my marriage, what should I do?

Nipun:  I would suggest you practice small acts of kindness.

Congregant B:  I’ve been unemployed for six months.  I’m desperate.  Can you help?

Nipun:  Yes, performing small acts of kindness will put you on the right path. 

Congregant C:  I’m concerned about the state of the world.  How can we fix it?

Nipun:  Small acts of kindness…..

There was a long pause, and then Nipun said: Who else has a question so I can suggest small acts of kindness?”

Nipun blessed me with his kindness on that day.  I began to see kindness as an antidote for everything – including air travel.

I practiced airplane kindness on short trips.  When it was time to fly to Ahmedabad, I was ready.

In an earlier post I wrote about getting on the plane to India in 2013 — how it was like being sealed in a flying coffin….

This time, the coffin became a cloister.

Whereas once I would complain to anyone who would listen about the duration, the boredom, the discomfort, the crying babies – 29 hours of travel became an extended mindfulness practice.  I lost the urge to focus on the cramped outer conditions.  Instead, I focused on inner expansiveness.  My work was to become a beneficial presence.  I actively sought opportunities to assist with a heavy bag, a kind word, a smile, a compliment, and more.

The coffin became a cloister and complaints became kindness.  I was free and completely happy to be on the plane for hours.  Nipun was right.  “Small Acts of Kindness” may be the answer to everything.    


Reflections:  Where can you turn complaints into kindness?  If there is something “wrong” in your life, are you willing to try small acts of kindness as a solution?  How can you be kinder to yourself? 

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14 Responses to From Coffin to Cloister

  1. Chris Howe says:

    Great Blog post – provided examples of practical practice


  2. I love this blog, perhaps simplicity ingested with love is all we need.


  3. Maria Bucaro says:

    Just what I needed today, but could have used this a few hours earlier 🙂 Arguing with my husband, countering each perceived attack with like, I see that I would have had a much more pleasant and loving afternoon if I had countered with words of kindness and maybe even an act of kindness. And in that process remembering love is all there is.


  4. Amy says:

    You have wings of love!


  5. nocrackpot says:

    Love, love, love.


  6. becky burnham says:

    such an easy, sure-fire solution…just do it!


  7. Bill kohut says:

    I hear you Bonnie, I really do. As for fear of flying, I’m moe afraid of driving on the freeway in LA than I am of flying.


  8. Pingback: Holy | Daily Beloved

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