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A misconception at the park made me reevaluate how I judge people

Denita Austin is a talented author from Washington D.C. She is also a yoga coach, speaker and mentor. While this defines who she is and what she does, the real experience with Denita is not truly appreciated until you are in her presence...

An unexpected conversation made me realize how society prejudges the homeless

After going for a long walk to a nearby park, which is my daily routine of clearing my mind, I met so many incredible, beautiful souls that shared the same space on this particular day. We were able to strike up conversations just about life in general. I absolutely love connecting with people and building relationships. I believe we need more of this in the world — bonding and building, that is.

More: How yoga and meditation helped me discover who I am

I spent a few hours on this particular day simply because I wanted to escape my list of to-dos and just take in some fresh air and great conversation. As the evening approached and the weather changed slightly from hot to cold (for me anyway), it was time to head back to my home.

As I glanced over to my right, I noticed one of the individuals that I was speaking to the entire time was sweeping the area where we were sitting. I couldn't figure this out. I was a bit puzzled as to why she was doing this. My first reaction was thinking, Hmm, maybe she is doing some sort of ritual or maybe she believes this park just needs a good sweep.

I slowly grabbed my things and headed back before the sun went down. When I looked back at the woman who was so kind and open-minded with her conversation, she ended up preparing her bed to lie down for the night. I was completely blown away — and intrigued — by this, because she honestly appeared to be at peace.

More: How to get your ego under control

I've always wondered how people reach that point in their life where they're sleeping in a park. Truth be told, I have always heard the saying that the average person is two pay checks away from being broke and out on the street.

When I arrived home, I just couldn't get over it. It wasn't the first time I'd witnessed homelessness, but I guess it was the first time I really thought about it, especially since we'd had such a wonderful interaction. She looked like everyone else walking her dog in the park.

I wanted to talk to someone about homelessness, but who? Who would care? Who would be interested or would understand how this can be a bit disturbing? I began to research volunteer opportunities to be of service in some way, shape or form, which I am still in the process of doing. It just weighs so heavy on my heart to see people on the street and to think that no one cares. Then I asked myself, Well, is there anyone who cares about you? Is there anyone who cares about the person who loves you?

We all can be judgemental at times, I'm guilty of this, too, but there was something about her energy that was so positive and vibrant that I absolutely loved that it made it easy to connect.

It is so important to be grateful for whatever you have in life, no matter what your situation is. Sometimes, we may think that the biggest house or the best car would solve our problems. But news flash, it's wise to make peace with whatever you have in life. We will always have bills and responsibilities, but making peace with what you have will reduce your stress level. All of these things can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye, so we need to stop putting so much energy into things instead of people. At the end of the day, we all need love and support.

Practicing non-judgment is equally important. Why do we judge people before we know their story? Everyone has a story, and until you take the time to listen to their story from your heart and not just your ears, you will never be able to see the world through a different lens.

The woman I met in the park was kind, open-minded and quite wise. We all share a common interest, but we will never know until we connect with people and push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. Be grateful for the small things in your life.

More: How to tame your negative thoughts

Denita Austin: Bestselling Author- Book Publisher- Yoga Coach

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