The Southern California freeways are an insane asylum. For those of you who are uninitiated, the traffic here just plain sucks. I don’t know if it’s the congestion that gets to me, or the way that people drive, or even just the general feel of flowing through a seemingly endless sprawl of a city at 4 miles per hour, almost all of the time. At any rate, it sucks the patience right out of me… It’s also an AMAZING chance to practice mindfulness 101.
I’ve realized that I have an aversion to giant pick-up trucks with huge wheels and shiny rims. What really bothers me is when I don’t see any dirt or scratches on them, which tells me that truck is simply for show. I also get super annoyed with Hummers. I guess it all goes with the latest bubble mentality of “everyone deserves to be rich and drive luxury”…or whatever… “bigger is better…” “Look at me, I can afford gas…”. BLAH… As it turns out, this “aversion” of mine ends up being nothing but fantasy. Prime for practicing mindfulness 101.
It’s especially in these circumstances, sitting on the 101, in fact, that I’ve lately found a kick-ass way to practice mindfulness 101. I find that I can observe my thoughts and actually see the stream begin from the first sight of one of these giant road monsters. It usually begins something like this:
“Oh man, there’s ANOTHER one of those things! Let’s see if they use their indicator…. NOPE! Wow, what an arrogant ass, all wrapped up in himself. What makes that guy drive that thing…oh look, he just cut me off…good, because I didn’t want to see the road or any signs in front of me anyway… WOW, his bumper is as high as my head…If he hit me, I’d be screwed…especially from the side…what an &##$^%*_!… I better stay away, far away from that jackass… I hope he doesn’t hurt anyone…how is that thing legal? Gas is expensive, he must be an idiot…”
I’ve noticed that I get annoyed, but here’s the gem in practicing mindfulness 101:
I can observe my stream of thoughts and how it changes my emotions. It can take me from a good mood to a bad mood in a flash. It’s just amazing once I start analyzing it practicing mindfulness 101.
It begins with the sense of sight. Then it triggers memories of being annoyed with this crap in the past. My mind begins to create fantasy based around this stimuli. It makes up a story about who this person is, then judges them and labels them, and leads to fear based fantasies of getting hurt by them, or others getting hurt by them. This sometimes leads to anger or frustration depending on the circumstance and whether or not I’ve had coffee, or practiced mindfulness 101.
What is truly amazing about this is that person in the truck might be the nicest person in the world. They might be having a bad day, or they really might be a jackass. They might even practice mindfulness 101. The truth is, I DON’T KNOW. It is ALL just stimuli running through the filters in my mind. Practicing mindfulness 101 helps me see exactly what my mind is doing in these circumstances. That’s the power of mindfulness 101.
I truly believe that with enough practice of mindfulness 101, the stream of thoughts can be averted before triggering emotion. That could help lead to amazing mental possibilities, not to mention a much more calm and pleasant demeanor.
Mindfulness 101 is simply observing your thoughts. That’s it. It’s being mindfully aware of your thoughts as often as you can be. It takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. Sitting in traffic is really a perfect chance to practice mindfulness 101.