This morning as I meditated outside a dude started up a circular saw.
Is it really necessary for tradies to start so bloody early?
Yes, it is, I would too if I had to work in the Melbourne sun. But I like sleeping too much.
I noticed with interest that I had no emotional reaction to the sawing noise. I could hear birds and rustling and all sorts of pleasant sounds, plus the circular saw and some cars.
In the past I know I would have reacted with irritation.
How dare he ruin my peaceful meditation.
Doesn’t he know how important it is that I feel peaceful?
It’s a common misconception that mindfulness and meditation (which, by the way, are entirely different things), should make us feel as calm as a zen monk waxing on and waxing off. Or something.
A client tagged me in this article yesterday titled “if mindfulness it making you uncomfortable, then you’re doing it right”, which I thought was brilliant.
I used to be a highly irritable, quick to snap type person.
When I meditate and hear a noise or an interruption that I know would have turned my mind snappy in the past, I scan my body for any signs of anger, irritation or frustration, and nothing can be found. I actually enjoy interrupting noises because they give me an opportunity to see how well I’m doing with being aware of my reactions. You can study your reactions until you have something to work with!
Which is why“negative” stimulus are such an important part of practicing both meditation and mindfulness Click To Tweet
When I notice that something annoys me during a meditation (a thought or something external), I take my focus into my body to work out where the annoyance is. (Insider tip (pun): emotions can be felt in the body as physiological reactions). Once I’ve found it, usually in a tightness of my chest or shoulders, or a knot in my stomach, I put my full attention into the sensation and observe it with curiosity.
When I watch my responses, I create space between them and my automatic reactions. In watching the response I can stop my emotion feeding my mind with a tirade of abuse directed towards the sawing tradie dude.
And usually before long I can’t find the emotion anymore, and then I feel neutral again.
This is what it’s like to be mindful – we still get triggered, the difference is that we become finely tuned at detecting our body and mind’s agitation before it lashes out at someone (or ourselves). And in that space we have the choice to choose a new reaction based on our more intelligent, rational brain, the one that doesn’t lash out like an injured animal.
And that is how mindfulness has the power to turn even a snappy, highly strung irritable person like me into a zen monk, except with more hair and less wisdom.