Having grown up in New York City during the birth and proliferation of the Internet, I think it would be accurate to say that I’ve always had some concentration issues. Not to say I was incapable; I was never diagnosed or anything like that, but there was something about moving as fast as possible that always felt…well, correct. And naturally, since that has been my habitual mobile mode, it is very frustrating when things…stop. Like waiting for the train. Every New Yorker experiences this—that grinding frustration at your own helplessness to keep on moving. The impending anxiety of the clock. The bubbling rage at the MTA for conspiring to single you out and fixing the system to make you delay at every possible junction.
In her second Tricycle retreat teaching, Sharon says that mindfulness is “a quality of awareness where our attention is not distorted by bias.”
Bias? I ain’t biased. I’m just a goddamn New Yorker.
But of course, she is right, and since the commencement of the 28-day meditation challenge, one of my new practices has become “mindful commuting.”
Waiting, the sensation of waiting, seems by definition to avoid presence. Is it that moment yet? The one I’m here for? And every moment until that impending moment is spent, wasted, on dwelling on the arrival on that moment, which when it comes, is gone.
It has not been easy, but I have slowly been able to erode my old impatience and create a new routine on the train platform. Now that I have become aware of those impulses to wait mindlessly, I have consciously made efforts to be present during those moments, and to use them productively. I spend those moments following my breath, in a certain way enjoying the task of finding it amidst the ocean of noisy distraction. I attentively stretch, concentrating on the sensations as I shift my focus along and through the muscles. I am sure to be mindful of my posture, and of my tendency to slouch and cave my shoulders. And slowly, I begin to feel the old perceptual habits give way to new awarenesses, and a new sensation of presence.
—Andrew Gladstone, Digital Media Coordinator
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