Confession: I can get “task focused” quite easily. Some might say it is my default mode. I have a tendency to start to see anything and anyone who impedes my direct progress to my goal as an obstacle to be overcome. If I’m not careful, I can choose to get frustrated, even angry.
I have mellowed TREMENDOUSLY in the last few years (you’d have to have known me in my 30s to truly appreciate the difference). My mantra now is “Peace of Mind is my Foremost Goal,” because what is the point of all the toys and possessions in the world if you are discontented and fuming?
The Journey is the Destination!
I sometimes frame it as “Peace of Mind is my Final Goal,” a subtle variation that reminds me not to throw out the baby with the bath water. All this striving is pointless if I stress myself to an early grave.
I read a story that moved me, touched me so that I read twice because I wanted to drive it deep into my awareness. I share it now in further pursuit of that continued forefront of the mind awareness, and because we teach what we most want to know.
“A young Army officer who had a history of anger-related problems was ordered to attended a mindfulness training class to reduce his level of stress. One day, after attending the class for some weeks, he stopped for groceries on his way home. He was in a hurry and a bit irritated, as usual, and the checkout lines were long.
The woman in front of him had only one item but wasn’t in the express line. She was carrying a baby and talking to the cashier. He became more irritated. Then she passed the baby to the cashier who spent a moment cooing over the child. He could feel his anger rising. But because he had been practicing mindfulness, he became aware of the heat and tightness in his body. He breathed and relaxed. When he looked up again, he saw the child smiling. As he reached the cashier, he said “That was a cute little boy.”
“Oh, did you like him? That’s my baby,” she said. “His father was in the military but he was killed last winter. Now I have to work full-time. My mom tries to bring him in once or twice a day so I can see him.”*
The story brings tears to my eyes and causes an instant paradigm shift, a 180-degree reversal of perspective and a deep lesson in perception/projection.
* The Wise Heart, by Jack Kornfield, passage printed in Oprah Magazine , June 2008 P. 142