Month of Love & Compassion
February is the month of love and compassion, and two events that happened to me recently made me pause to think about what it means to have true compassion rather than anger and judgement.
The first instance happened during our recent THIRD Anniversary Open House, which many of you joined. Thanks to all of you, we had a wonderful afternoon with great camaraderie and an amazing selection of food and desserts. During this event, a woman with unkept hair and worn clothes, whom we had never seen before, came in and began piling her plate with food, even stuffing the food into her coat pockets. It was apparent that she was not there to learn about yoga, and many of us became uncomfortable as it was clear that she was taking advantage of us. My initial reaction was, “What does this women think she is doing?!”, and I just wanted her to leave the space I love.
But as she was gathering herself to leave, with a full belly and warmed up, I stopped myself. She must have been in a very difficult spot to take the time to find out about our Open House, come into where she knew she did not belong-just to get something to eat. The anger left me as I put myself into her shoes, and I am now thankful that she was able to get something she needed here, even if it was not what I was offering.
The second instance happened a few days later on a stormy night. I was sitting at home by the fire with my family watching TV when the studio phone rang at 10 pm. A distressed young women on the other end of the line told me that she was outside of our building having just finished her class. She explained that she had left her keys in the studio, and was now unable to get back into the building as the main door automatically locks at 9 pm. She sounded frantic, cold and scared. I did not recognize her voice or name, but the reception was bad, and I could hear the rain coming down like crazy. I had a funny suspicion about this whole thing, as our teachers always spend a few extra minutes in the studio locking up, and it was well past the end of class. I did not know what else to do except to go, open the studio, and help her retrieve her keys.
After driving over to the now desolate building in the storm, I met a petite and unfamiliar young women at the front door. I let her in with my key card, and as we were taking the elevator up to the studio, I started a conversation with her. Something just was not right. Now I regretted that I did not take up my husband’s repeated offers to go with me, but it was too late. I opened the studio door, we walked in and she immediately made an excuse to leave. I looked around for the keys which I sensed were never left there, checked our class list for her name and was not surprised to find that it was not there. Right then she came in to tell me that she found her keys in the ladies room. I couldn’t believe it! She got me out of my house, late at night with a fib to open the building, so she could get the keys she left either in the ladies room or in one of the neighboring offices. I felt betrayed and taken advantage of. I just then noticed that she was not wearing yoga clothes and was holding an envelope addressed to one of our neighbors in the building.
As we were leaving the building, she was still telling me about the class (which she never took) and about her friend who brought her to the studio. I was quite close to letting her know how I really felt about her elaborate scheme and conniving attitude, when for the second time in a week, I had to stop and think about it. She was so desperate to get her car keys that she tracked me down, found my number, concocted a story, and convinced me to come and help her out. I had to let my anger go and realize that, despite the circumstances, I was supposed to help her get home that stormy night.
This was hard for me. It is difficult to let go of anger and resentment, and I know I am far from perfect. But in these instances, I chose compassion rather than anger, and in the end I feel that I made the right choice. We know that carrying anger and resentment can be harmful to us. Can you try to choose compassion the next time you are put in a situation that might cause you to react with anger, because someone unjustly took advantage of you. Can we take a deep breath and respond with forgiveness and compassion? Imagine a world in which everyone practiced compassion. Yes, it’s hard, but it starts with you!