@ “My distress is all in my head” – Alfred

See (1) to know about Alfred.

Practices

I am continuously refining both my routine and working on improving my concentration and mindfulness.  I still look forward to each morning session and have not missed a day yet.  

Ideas

Some people can really get under my skin. They annoy me beyond reason. I get caught up in a cycle of bad thinking about them; analyzing why they say such annoying things, thinking up rebuttals to their comments, and dreading our next interaction. I realize intellectually that no one is perfect and that I should be tolerant but I also feel resentful for the way they disturb my peace.

What if I was in a daily car pool with a person who was very flatulent?
It occurred to me as I meditated that, if I was in a daily car pool with a person who was very flatulent it would similarly annoy me. I would end up feeling angry at the person and would dread the daily car ride. What could be done in this situation to minimize its bad effect on me? My meditative voice told me that 90% of the distress from this situation is all in my head. The ill effects would include dreading the trip before it started, the anger and resentment I would feel during the trip, and the residual effects of these emotions after the trip was over. If I could overcome these ill effects the only problem remaining would be the bad odor. During the trip I could mitigate that effect by opening a window. I also could bring something nice smelling which I could sniff when the odor became strong. Best of all I could take great solace in the fact that I am healthy, that I do not suffer this flatulence and that soon the trip would be over and I would have fresh air in my lungs again.

By redirecting my way of thinking, resentment and anger could be replaced by gratitude and empathy. When these forces rule a little gas is easy to bear. See (2) for my article with a very similar theme.

Results
  • Gifts from Meditation: Getting beyond preoccupation with my own thoughts and worries is one of the basic goals of my meditation. Sometimes reaching this level comes easily, sometimes it comes slowly and sometimes it does not come at all. Once achieved, and I am in a peaceful and present state, different types of ideas sometimes come to me. These ideas seem to come from somewhere outside of myself which is why I consider them gifts. Often these ideas are clarifications or new ways of looking at familiar things. They are gentle guideposts for living.
  • More flexible: I am now feeling more flexible which has made bike riding much more pleasant.

(1) Alfred
(2) I hated the garbage and I stopped

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Related posts: Alfred’s progress

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