I've been thinking a lot about kindness today. Such a simple thing yet so many of us fail at it sometimes. Why is that?
Last week, I was at Six Flags with my friends. We went to the wave pool, amazingly found 2 of the only open lounge seats, and set up shop. My 19 month old had fallen asleep in the stroller so I decided to park the stroller behind our seats in the shade so she wouldn't get hot. What I didn't fully realize was that I parked right in front of another lady.
A few minutes after I sat down, her friend told me to move the stroller because I was blocking their view of their kids in the pool. I immediately hopped up, apologized, and started backing my stroller up. But this woman wouldn't let it go and was so angry and nasty to me. I stayed calm and sweet the entire time, apologizing for blocking her view yet it didn't do anything to help appease her.
I sat back down so flustered. Why was she so rude to me? Even after I tried to be kind? And why did it bother me so much?
The answer is that I like to make people happy. I genuinely do. I like positive energy surrounding me. That's part of why I love yoga so much. It's a time to get out of our egos and be a part of a community with fellow, like-minded, positive people.
One of my favorite words is ahimsa. It's a Hindi word meaning "not to injure" and "compassion." It's a Buddhist doctrine that teaches that all life is sacred and urges non-violence. And it doesn't just refer to physical violence, but one's words, deeds, and thoughts as well. A broader definition is showing love and respect for others. With the concept of ahimsa is the belief that we all have a spark of the divine in us so to hurt another being, is to hurt ourselves; and vice versa, when we show love for others, we show love for ourselves as well. It's a beautiful word and a beautiful way to live.
But why do some people choose not to show love and respect? I'm sure there are a lot of reasons but I think they boil down to one cause: pride.
Pride is different than being proud of something. When I'm proud of a job well done, it means I'm taking a moment to be grateful that I completed a task successfully. I also acknowledge God for giving me the gifts and talents to see the task through. However, pride puts oneself above the Divine. Pride says I achieved my goals because I am better than God and others. Pride shuns humility and vulnerability. Pride doesn't allow for acknowledgement of failure rather blames others for any challenges. Pride claims one's needs are greater than others. Pride assumes others intentionally try to hurt them. Pride doesn't allow for forgiveness. Pride doesn't ask for help. Pride kills ahimsa because how can people love and appreciate the divine in others if they are too busy thinking they are better than the divine in themselves?
Pride allows a woman to be angry at another for parking her stroller in front of her. Pride justifies her rude tone assuming the insult was done purposefully. Pride massages her ego as she cuts down the other's.
Pride could have easily taken over on my side as well. I could have lashed back with a few choice words but I didn't. I chose kindness. I chose to acknowledge that her needs felt greater to her than mine did, that I could correct the situation, and walk away. I love the stories one of my yoga teachers, Ateeka Contee, tells of cars cutting her off in traffic and her saying "Namaste" to them instead of choosing to respond angrily. I think about that when I'm in the car now too.
As a doula, pride has no place in labor. It is not about me whatsoever. I may have differing opinions on how I would do things but that doesn't matter. I put my clients wants above my own. I show them ahimsa by loving and respecting who they are as people and parents-to-be, and acknowledging that they know what's best for them. And by showing this kindness, I hope to make them happy. I hope no matter what transpires in that delivery room, the parents will walk away feeling loved, nurtured, cared for, and above all, truly happy. That is ahimsa. That is my goal.
Birth Boot Camp Certified Doula (BBCD)