Community living has become one of my best teachers in the last two years and today I would like to share my most recent lessons with you. While I have my own house, I am connected to the person next to me by one wall and a lot of concrete and insulation. On a greater scale, I am connected to all the residents that live in my community simply by living within the same gates. Now, for those of you who live in your own house with your own mailbox you probably don’t have to deal with the goings on of an HOA (Homeowners Association). If you are like me and have certain rules in which you must abide in, you understand how frustrating it can be when a mis-take occurs and you are “caught” by the neighborhood watch guards. Yes, I have some of those where I live and I am certain they sit by their window and wait for someone to violate a rule so they can go write a letter to the management company. I could write a book on the things I have learned about myself through living in a community and all have not been easy, my character has been judged and I have been accused of more than I care to be AND in the end, I learn, and I build a wellspring of compassion within myself for others.
The most recent incident came by surprise and the outcome was a personal transformation even more profound than I originally thought. So, here we go. Earlier today I received a letter from the management company who manages the property here in the community I live in. The job of the management company is to listen to all the residents, provide what they need, make sure the pools; landscape and tennis courts are all kept in pristine condition. They also have to occasionally send out violation notices to residents who do not follow the rules. In the letter was a note from another resident saying that I did not pick up Coolwhip’s “droppings.” Now, they mentioned a few other not so nice things and called me the culprit of the problem, literally. I wasn’t aware I was being watched but apparently I was. Anyhow, they were right, I had already used both of my “poo bags” and Coolwhip had a little accident. I circled back around with the intention of going back to pick it up and instead I was hit by my severe allergy which sends my body into anaphylactic shock so I was a bit out of it for a few days. Now, I was fully aware of what I had done and rested on the assurance that if it did concern someone they would have enough compassion in their heart to forgive and move on. I was wrong, the person did not have any compassion, just the opposite actually, and he or she was under the belief that dog poo on the ground (not in the street) was “bad.” My response to my “violation” letter was to admit that I had done what I had been accused of , but that I would not stand for being personally disrespected or have my character judged by someone that does not know me. My response was kind and after all, it wasn’t the messenger’s fault at all.
My first feeling was that of being judged and I didn’t like it at all. I felt a sense of guilt as I had done something “wrong”. I watched myself as I tried to fix the resident who complained. When I stopped for a second, closed my eyes and got quiet, I realized this issue was not to be solved outside of myself, it was to be resolved within my consciousness and then that was the end of my mental warfare. This is where practicing mindfulness comes in handy and without it I would have jumped on the wave of frustration and fear and let it take me right out into the sea of guilt. With one shift, I was able to fill my center with love and compassion instead of hate.
Why would I ever try and change someone else for the way they think? I will tell you right now, I tried it for a long time and every time I fell flat on my face. Today, my practice is to witness my own behavior and focus on what I need to do to land myself into a place of peace and this is sometimes incredibly hard. Instead of looking to the person for their faults I turned my awareness to what was happening within me as I am well aware that whatever I entertain in my mind will only become visible in my outer life. My actions were being brought to my attention and it was up to me to respond with kindness….you know love your neighbor as thyself principle? This is where living by principles rather than personalities is a way more peaceful way to live and evolve as a person in my opinion. I don’t believe anyone is responsible for their personality, they are only acting upon what they learned and allow in their consciousness on a daily basis-all which is NONE of my business.
My heart is now full of compassion for those who live in fear of a rule being broken and for those who don’t always have enough bags on them to pick up after their dog.
We are all doing the best we can, how about we being to support each other as we continue to grow instead of attacking everyone for what they don’t do? We are the only ones who can give someone permission to disrespect us, the choice is up to us.
From now on, I am going to extend even more kindness than I already try to and when I walk and see dog poo that someone wasn’t able to pick up, I will. We are all part of the same world, we are all connected and it is time we get up and begin living from the center of our heart as opposed to the confines of the mind. The last place I want to live from is my mind….that’s the worst place I can be! How about yo? Where do you live from? Heart or that spot that is just behind your heart that is bursting with light? What will it be peeps? Are you in?