A couple of years ago I met my girlfriend for lunch at a newly renovated restaurant. Word had already spread through the neighborhood that it was a wonderful spot–delicious food, nice atmosphere, good service.
The shopping center that housed the restaurant was under construction. There were many construction workers sharing the small parking lot with those of us looking forward to having a great lunch during a busy work week. Parking spots were at a premium.
As I drove around searching desperately for a space to park and feeling frustrated, I saw a truck taking up two spots. Because of how the driver had pulled in, I had to park quite a distance from my destination. As I walked by the double-parked truck, I decided to take a photo.
If you’re new to Mindfulness, let me explain that it’s a practice of bringing your attention to present moment experiences in a nonjudgmental way. As I took the photo and certain thoughts jumped into my head, I immediately noticed that I was judging this driver. I started to make up a story to explain the driver’s actions: the person probably parked like this on purpose, since they were angry that they had to work, and others were able to enjoy the day shopping and having lunch.
Then, my Mindfulness practice kicked in. Maybe this worker arrived here very early in the morning to an almost-empty lot and was running late because they:
I noticed when my emotions shifted when my anger dropped as my Mindfulness practice kicked in.
Mindfulness is a practice of compassion. It’s never about the other person.
It is noticing the stories we are making up, accepting ourselves with compassion, and letting go of the judgment.
When I realized that my anger at the driver of this poorly parked truck was just a thought, I smiled and let go. I felt a lightness in my body as I walked into the restaurant, and I had a wonderful meal with my friend.
How would you have felt if you walked away angry?
Download this infographic from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine to learn more, and ask yourself if it’s worth holding on to your anger.
Mindfulness is now being incorporated by organizations to lower healthcare costs, support employees in staying focused which improves their performance, and reduce levels of stress.
Harriet Stein of Big Toe in the Water brings Mindfulness Programs to organizations of all sizes to transform employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.