Monday, 31 July 2006

Anonymous phone call

People; why are they so aggressive?

Sudiegirl asked the other day about mindfulness.

So little space, so much anger
Mindfulness is a form of meditation which focuses on sensory experience of the here and now, on peacefully being in your own body and in the moment, without passing judgement.

Therapeutic mindfulness, as practised by my dear J, is similar to, but distinct from, mindfulness as practised by Buddhism.

Babies and young children, I guess, are always mindful. A baby will cry because it feels hungry, or cold, or because the wet diaper feels uncomfortable.

At some point though, I guess we all start adhering to constant orders of having to wait for gratification, to 'put up with things' and pull ourselves together.

And all of a child's actions are usually met with a "oh, that's great" or "no, that's bad".

Which obviously help develop useful coping strategies for adult life, but it also means that we distance ourselves from the moment, from just being without being judged.

How much time every day do we spend thinking about 'other stuff' rather than just 'being'?

Thinking about the laundry we should be doing while eating our dinner, thinking about unpaid bills during sex, worrying about exam results while out on a date, being annoyed with past arguments while on the phone to a sick parent... the list goes on.

Mindfulness is about giving your mind a break from the past and the future, and staying in the present.

It sounds simple, but is surprisingly difficult. Whenever I try to practise alongside J, I find that my mind wanders off in all kinds of directions almost immediately.

Buddhism advocates mindfulness as a way of life. You can do your dishes mindfully (feeling the warm water, smelling the soap), you can garden mindfully (watching insects and birds).

Sometimes I'm shocked to find that I've driven long stretches in a car without actually noticing anything around me because I was too preoccupied with thinking about something else.

And inevitably the 'something else' would have been less important than not running over any pedestrians.

Like today on my way to work for instance. I was cycling (admittedly without any lights...) along an empty road in the dark when I heard a car come from one of the side streets as I was crossing it. I stepped on it as well as I could, and just about avoided getting smashed by a massive BMW.

Half of me was mostly preoccupied with the acid smarting my thighs from cycling uphill, but half of me also wondered why someone would be in a rush so late on a Sunday evening.

The car sped to the top of the hill, did a u-turn and parked in the middle of the pavement next to a phone box which I'd never noticed before.

Which again made me wonder what on earth anyone would need to speed to the phone for at this day and age of mobiles.

A guy rushed out of the car, into the phone box and had time to dial a number by the time I passed him again.

He was shouting down the phone at the top of his very aggressive voice. "Put her on the goddamn phone, I have the right to fucking talk to her if I want!!" and so on.

Someone has obviously been banned from calling someone, maybe their number even blocked, and so has to resort to calling from anonymous phone boxes, as a witheld number probably wouldn't be answered.

It was pretty intimidating, and I cycled past as fast as I could, lest he come out and give me the same treatment. I considered taking the number of his car, he sounded serious, but didn't.

And without wanting to oversimplify things; there is no way to build up that kind of hatred and anger (it really was hatred in his voice) without stewing over something for a long time, unable to move on and leave the past in the past.

Rather than being sometimes in my head, I guess I should aim to be "always in the now". But it's difficult.


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More about Mindfulness :: from Wikipedia :: from Oxford uni

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