Beijing, China – Rush hour traffic in Beijing. Source © Xiao Lu Chu/Getty Image
Looking at this picture, I started to feel stressed and impatient for those who probably get trapped in this traffic jam each day and then I realised, what an amazing opportunity it would be to practice being present.
Below is a wonderful example of what can happen when we allow our minds to go off and become stressed. Making a conscious decision, we can always create another opportunity to be present and see the situation differently.
Managing Stress Part 3 – source Ann S. Williams, PhD, RN, CDE. (http://fpb.case.edu/Faculty/Williams.shtm)
Imagine that a friend has forgotten to call you at a time you both agreed to. You try to call your friend, and no one answers. Your immediate feeling is disappointment. Disappointment is closely followed by anger. Perhaps you feel insulted, and furthermore, you may feel that this so-called friend, and many other people too, often ignore you and insult you.
In fact, you may start thinking that you should tell this person just how angry you really are, so you begin composing a lecture in your mind about how the person has wronged you, retelling all the times you have felt insulted and ill-treated in both large and small ways by this person.
As you recall all this bad treatment, you become more and more agitated. The stress hormones in your body rise, your muscle tension rises, and your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol all begin to rise. You may even be gritting your teeth, or tightening your hands into fists. Your thought process has moved rapidly from the present moment to the past and to an imagined future, and your experience of stress has grown larger at each step of the process.
As soon as you notice a physical or emotional stress, you simply acknowledge and accept it. You hold it in your mind and allow it to be exactly what it is, without judgment. And you also notice whatever else is present in that moment: a sound, a sight, a feeling—and allow your mind to rest on that sensation.
Since your breath is always with you, you turn your attention to your breathing. Paying attention to your breathing will help you to calm your mind and remember the feeling of a deeply relaxed state. You notice it, feel it fully, and acknowledge it as it is.
You simply accept that you feel disappointed. Maybe you realize that you do not know why the other person did not call you. Perhaps you think you will tell the person that you were disappointed, when you have the chance. Then you turn your attention to something else in the present moment.
So just like the traffic jam or being in the long line to buy Christmas presents or food for the busy season ahead, we will always have a choice how we react to these situations. Our reactions will also trigger either anger or peace in another person, and so we need to also be conscious and responsible how we treat each other during this stressful time.
The picture below may help you visualise where you might like to be, especially when the traffic is jammed, the kids are screaming in the back and you realise you have forgotten your wallet! Namaste 🙂 🙂