There is a saying that goes ‘be a Roman in Rome.’ I believed that this statement is mostly about how we dress, live, and enjoy in a particular place. And I have been living that dictum to the T for a long long time, but only in those particular areas. But life and my experiences have taught me that there is more to it than just a lifestyle change.

Let me tell you something. I am an ardent follower of Om Swamiji and his message of ‘discover your own Truth‘ goes very deep into my soul. Since I was born, I have lived my life with that thought. That message struck a deep cord in me and made me his serious disciple. To be honest, I always went against the idea of having a Guru or following anyone in particular. But He gave me the indirect initiation into this Guru Sishya path with his teachings. I had no second thoughts about it.                                                                       Another precept being taught by Him for peace and enlightenment is ‘kindness‘. His all inclusive, unifying, empathetic path to spiritual progress swept me off my feet. It made sense to me because again that’s what I always had in me. He brought it all out and gave it a structure, a practical way of walking the talk.                                                                    Having said that, I want to get into the real purpose of this blog, to tell my experiences on the journey of walking this ‘kindness’ path.                                                                      

We are all conditioned beings. Families we are born in, vasanas or tendencies we bring into this world with us, the company we keep, the society we live in, the career/work we take up, the culture /tradition/habits of the geographical location of the place we reside in, the readings and travel we expose ourselves to, the choices and experiences of life, all of these and many more make/mold us for who we are. This is what makes each life unique and each person different from the other. That, for me, is the fascinating fact of this precious life. No two persons are alike.                                                                      

My TRUTH is this. Along with KINDNESS, we need MINDFULNESS at every juncture for progress on this journey. Kindness alone may sometimes land you in trouble. Sounds funny right? Yes, your good intentions may be misconstrued, because of the other person’s own conditioning.                                                            

Let me tell you 3 small incidents of my life which will explain my point of view in 3 areas of conditioning that make mindfulness also a must accompaniment to kindness.

1-Family background- 
Smitha is a good friend and our friendship goes back many years. Both of us are brought up with the same regional language as children but with different meanings and usages. we were traveling  together the other day and she offered to carry my suitcase, which was, of course, heavier, but I with my kindness and humility said ‘NO’, in my mother tongue. It was the word we use regularly at home for NO. She felt extremely offended, told me that I was being rude, that word was offensive, and bingo, we fought. We argued and then I apologised and promised her that I would be more mindful about my vocabulary with her.

2-Society- Seema and I are planning to start a company together and we are partners in this endeavour. We started the process and as it goes, I was THANKING her at every step of the long documentation and registration process. And suddenly one hectic day she messaged me saying “Hey, we are in this together and you don’t have to thank me so much. This is my responsibility.” I felt embarrassed and explained to her that my travel and exposure to people got me into this habit of thanking everyone at every juncture. I told her that I would be mindful next time. Of course, she told me to be myself, but still, I am going to be conscious of the background of the person before I start speaking.

3-Culture- Divya is from a small town and shifted to our city a couple of years ago. She is a very quiet and reserved person. She became a regular client at my store. Slowly we developed a good rapport as I am always trying to be friendly and helpful to people who come to me. I trained my staff to SMILE and be jovial with clients. One day Divya came into my cabin to say that she was feeling a bit self conscious and awkward entering my store as my girls were laughing/staring at her. This was again a revelation to me, and I realised that smiling at strangers may be nice in some places, but not all. I had to tone it down.

 So to wind it all up, my point is that along with kindness we need to practice mindfulness on a regular basis. We are all same in the divinity of our souls, but very different in our perceptions because of our conditioning, that’s all. Wishing you all success in whatever you are pursuing. 

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Laxmi Duggirala

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