“How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging someone to answer?” ~Rabia
As soon as I read this quote, I knew it was a question I needed to deeply consider. It was illuminating to read this because I immediately visualized myself pounding furiously on the open door of life hoping that someone would arrive to help me find my way through. Yet, there is no need to pound on the door, to kick, scream, beg or demand because the door is already open. You can walk through, just as you are, right now.
According to the Bhagavad Gita, “There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to be. Therefore, play the role you’re meant for right now.” It’s so hard to accept this in the busy, fast paced life of self-improvement projects that we all live in right now. My clients all present various anxieties and fears that they are, at the same time, doing too much and missing a certain joyful quality in their lives that they are certain “should” be there and not doing “enough”—to be good partners, good parents, good employees, good citizens of the world. We are overwhelmed with the sense that something is amiss and that we don’t have a right to just walk through the door and experience the joy that is being alive. So, we improve ourselves and pound and kick away at the door only to find that there is no bell because there is no one to receive us.
A month or so back, I was attending a Quaker meeting and someone rose and quoted Micah 6:8 from the bible: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”. Ever since then, the word “kindness” has been coming up for me absolutely everywhere. Later that same Sunday, I was in the library and the first book I saw was this little, almost pamphlet sized book by Ajahn Brahm called “Kindfulness”. I checked a book called “Love Kindness” by Barry H. Corey out of the library. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that cultivating kindness was part of my divine life journey. Later in the same meeting, someone stood and told a story about how they were really pleased when the principal of their child’s new school asked that all students have respect for one another and their teachers during the orientation, but she thought that what they should really offer one another was kindness. Kindness, she went on to say, is what is due to all humans, no matter what. Respect, on the other hand, is earned. I found this to be profound. We do not have to earn kindness and we should not ask anyone else to earn kindness from us either.
How are all these things linked? Well, honestly, I don’t know. For me, reading is a part of my practice. When these types of ideas present themselves to me through my spiritual life, in my readings, and in my daily life, I try to pay attention. Even on a surface level, I have to believe that expressing ourselves authentically, walking right through that open door and being gentle and kind to all the other people we meet is a path to great joy for ourselves and everyone that we meet. How do we get the courage and grace to do this? Practice. It takes a lot of practice so that we have compassion for ourselves and others, so that we are aware and so we are mindful of our power to take actions that either improve or decrease the quality of life for everyone we come into contact with. For today, no matter what your circumstances, offer at least five strangers your brightest and deepest smile. Tell at least someone you know something that they do that you are truly grateful for or just tell someone that you notice them and all that they do. Release your narrative in a relationship and just give your special someone a hug and tell them that you are so happy they are there—because, yes, they probably press your buttons and shrunk your favorite sweater and can’t help but burn toast every morning—but what is most important, is their beautiful presence, the light they shine in your life, your house, your family. I am convinced that offering everything with “kindfulness” will not only profoundly improve my quality of life, but it is a step towards peace in my house, in my community and my world.
Written by Sharon Fennimore, a yogini teaching yoga, meditation and providing integrative health coaching services to women and families with young children based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Join my online community Make Room!