How many times during the day do we run away with stories in our heads that only serve to make us more tense or more frustrated with life. How many troubles do we have in our minds that never really happen? The following is a story I originally heard from author and teacher, Jack Kornfield, of a man that we may all be able to relate to:
John had been touring in Afghanistan and over time had developed a stress condition so severe that his commanding officer recommended him to take leave for a while. Part of the conditions for leaving was that he take an 8-week mindfulness course to deal with his stress. After 8 weeks, John learned how to become aware of the interaction of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that would cycle over one another and snowball him into a full blow stress reaction or a fit of rage. He was able to acknowledge when this was happening, bringing himself back to his breath and body, calm his nervous system, and respond differently. He was feeling pretty good about himself and his new way of relating to his stress and anger.
On his way home to see his family, he stopped at a super market to pick up some groceries. As he began to check out in the 12 items or less check-out line, there was a woman in front of him holding her baby. The first thing he noticed was that she had at least 15 items which started to irritate him. He began to think, “I can’t believe people do this, it is so rude, what is wrong with this lady.” As the fumes continued to rise he noticed to check out clerk and the customer beginning to coo at the little baby. This only made his blood boil more. Then the unthinkable happened. The customer actually handed the baby over to the check-out clerk who continued to coo and smile at the baby. “Don’t these people have any respect for other people’s time? I hate this.” John’s whole body was in a knot at this point.
Just when he was about to …