It was my first trip into the city on my own since I started feeling incredibly healthy. I knew from the moment I stepped out of bed that I would set a clear and useful intention. My mind was clear but was tending to go to the places of old habits: “You will get sick and have no way to get home,” “You think you’re so independent now, just you wait.” For too many years I would have given in to these thoughts and would have allowed myself to feel useless, helpless, dependant and scared. So this time I faced them with an open heart. I chose to shine my own compassionate light towards my thoughts and as I did so they dissolved and their heavy lingering power disappeared. Once settled I set my intention.
“My intention is to meet my experiences today with compassion, mindfulness and love.”
I did my daily sitting practice and was able to remain present for any experience of nervousness, excitement, worry or happiness that arose. This allowed me to move into my morning with a ‘here now’ mind. Just as I sat in meditation, with my intention clear and mindfulness encompassing my experience, I sat on the train, calm and sure.
After a short while I had a profound sense of gratitude swell over me. I was seeing with an awareness that was new to me. The rocking of the train, which I can recall on previous trips being annoying and sometimes disconcerting, was a soothing motion that immediately joined into my mindful state, becoming a pleasant experience. The children laughing loudly, screaming from time to time was a pleasure to hear. I suddenly felt privileged that I was sharing in that moment of their joy and delight. The graffiti that surrounded me was a clear and unique expression of art for someone instead of ‘damage’ or ‘youth revolt.’ In all of my experience I was in awe at how perfect these strings of moments and happenings were. I was in awe of the life that surrounded me and had come together to join in a dance of perfection, right there on the train.
I checked in with my body and on occasion felt a tinge of pain or discomfort. I turned towards it with compassion for myself in that moment, saying softly and gently to my being that, “This is suffering,” “This is the experience of pain or discomfort,” “This is a human experience,” “That is OK,” “It is OK, feel my love for you.” By offering myself this compassion I was immediately released from the experience of being ‘wrong’ or feeling unpleasant to simply a joyful experience of body sensation. By releasing my attachment to the negative thoughts I was able to just be with the moment. “Wow how fortunate it is to feel!” I found myself saying with true pleasure in my heart.
I was soon at my stop in the heart of the city.
The next thing I know, my train pass didn’t work. Then I was standing in front of a ticket inspector. She turned and explained to me that my ticket indicated that I hadn’t validated it at the start of my journey. Of course I thought I had validated my ticket however it still came down to my having to pay a fine.
I took a deep breath and went inside. I became mindful of my body in that moment. A tightening of my chest. Anger? No frustration. Breathing more frequently, faster. Embarrassment? Yes. I consciously recalled my intention for the day. I was being mindful now; how about the compassion and love?
As I extended myself compassion I became relaxed and calm. I was suddenly aware of two choices: I could either become increasingly stressed over the fine and cause not only myself more suffering but also the busy ticket inspector, or I could work to understand and empathise in the situation. It then became quite easy to extend compassion to myself as well as towards the lady who stood before me.
I began to see her more clearly. She was tired, tense and apprehensive. Other inspectors nearby were facing brick walls of resistance and confrontation from angry commuters. I saw the woman in front of me again and a swell of compassion arose within me, unlike before. It was pure and I returned to feeling the wonder and love that had enveloped me on my journey there. She stood silent for a few seconds holding me in a stare and then with real sincerity she said, “Thank you. I am sorry that I had to do this.” I fully took in her gratitude and smiled. Her relief, gratitude and kindness were extraordinary to be mindfully aware of.
We shared a connection that was beautiful. We didn’t talk about beautiful things but there was an exchange of something else, underneath the words we said to each other and much more significant. Perhaps it was a mutual respect or a responsiveness to the love, gratitude and compassion that passed between us. In my heart the money didn’t even matter anymore. I had experienced a moving connection with another being.
I paid my fine. As I walked away I again checked in with myself. A lightness within my body, a feeling of – it took me a second to recognise what this actually was but yep – I was feeling joy.
Through my presence and mindful attention compassion, truth and love guided and supported me. What I lost financially was nothing compared to what I gained from our exchange. I was then able to really be there for the moments of joy and wellbeing that followed in the rest of my day.
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