We all have things that we more or less have to do in life that for most of us automatically trigger feelings of frustration, boredom, restlessness and even fear. These might include sitting in traffic, waiting in a long line at the post office, engaging in Jury Duty, arguing an erroneous charge on a bill, or being given seemingly busy work at our jobs. If we all sat in a room together, I’m sure we could make a list that could wrap around this good earth.
So what do we do?
Here’s a personal experience I’d like to share:
I was called to Jury Duty not too long ago; actually, I’m here right now awaiting my fate before a judge to see whether I will be sitting on a weeklong Jury.
Last night the stream of thoughts began, “Are you serious, do I really have to take time out of my day to do this? I have so many other things to do. What time do I have to wake up again? This is going to be terrible.”
As I drove to the courthouse today, the thoughts seemed to not be as present, but as soon as I arrived and saw the long line for security, they came right back.
As I sat down awaiting orientation, I noticed my body in a fit of discomfort. My breathing was heavy, my face constricted, and I was feeling angry that I was here. The thoughts were like a waterfall flooding over me cycling with my physical discomfort.
Along with these thoughts were intermittent thoughts of bringing mindfulness to the situation, but these were also just more thoughts, I wasn’t actually engaging with any practice.
When I realized this, I Stopped, Took a Breath, Observed how I was feeling physically and emotionally, and chose to proceed by continuing to be present with my body (This is the STOP practice).
My mind’s struggling appeared to dissipate as I noticed the tightening of my chest and was just able to be with it. I recognized that I was suffering and chose to turn toward the discomfort and look upon it as a part of me in pain that I was caring for. Much like we might imagine the archetypal mother caring for her child.
This really changed things. I found what is called an “in-between moment” to bring mindfulness to. What was initially a depleting activity has turned into an opportunity to practice changing the way I relate to difficulty. I’m still sitting here awaiting the next step in this process, but as I type these words, my mind is quieter and the tension in my chest feels more like a subtle vulnerability. There is definitely a greater sense of peacefulness and acceptance around this judicial process and my own process.
Take it for what it’s worth. What activities do you have today that you might be able to bring mindfulness to? Any phone calls you’re waiting on hold with, red lights in traffic, any lines to wait in?
As always, don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself. Notice any judgments that arise initially such as “forget this, this won’t work,” or “yeah it worked for him, but he teaches this stuff, it’s not for me,” or “this is stupid,” etc…
Give it a chance, don’t expect miracles and trust your experience.
Please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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Last reviewed: 12 May 2010