I started using the Headspace App a few months ago and have been fairly consistent in meditating for ten minutes every day. They have the option to increase the amount of time, but I haven’t tried to commit more than ten minutes. More than ten minutes and I’m likely to think I haven’t got the time for it.
I started out really well, I think, and then after a while I was less good at it, falling asleep a lot, letting my mind wander all the time. Andy, the Headspace guy, says you’ve got to train the mind even when you’re not meditating. Well, he doesn’t say it like that. He always says use a gentle touch with the mind. He says you should be noticing when you’re indulging in thoughts that take you away from the present moment and seek to gently bring yourself back to the present moment. So anyway I got to the point where I was letting my mind wander as much as I had been before I started “training my mind.”
But a few days ago I decided to “give it another go” and “get serious” again. Side note, does putting cliches in quotes absolve you of the literary crime of using them? “Fuck it.” Haven’t we been down this road before…
So anyway, I’m meditating on different kinds of “happiness,” as silly as that sounds. Yesterday, Andy said that I couldn’t feel happy if I was simultaneously being unkind towards anyone. And he said I also count as someone that I shouldn’t be unkind towards.
Today at work I tried to be kind to everyone, including myself. It worked well, even when I found it a struggle for a few moments when some customers seemed to respond with vitriol and condescension, and even when I forgot to keep “being kind” at the forefront of my mind.
One thing I tried to realize is that being kind to everyone and yourself doesn’t mean self-abnegation. It doesn’t mean you have to be subservient or obsequious. What’s the right way to balance being kind to an asshole and being kind to yourself…not sure yet.
But I’ll work on it. In the meantime, I’m on break, sitting in the sunlight and feeling good about the morning, which is not something to be taken for granted.
Paul Graham said that anyone who insults us hurts us twice, the first time when they insult us and the second time for however long we ruminate on it. By focusing constantly on kindness, you don’t have a lot of time to get hurt in the second way. Also, in regards to yesterdays’ rant about customer service and finding a way out of it, Bob Dylan says that everyone has to serve someone. And that’s really ok, because being waited on all the time makes me uncomfortable anyway. It’s good to serve other people out of our own free will and kindness, not out of avarice and not with bitterness. Is it possible to serve people at your job while feeling like you’re doing it out of the “kindness of your heart?” Maybe.
But in any case, it will be good to eliminate bitterness from my life, if possible, because Benedict Cumberbatch was right when he said, “Bitterness is a paralytic.” I think I’ve written a post about that, but I forgot about it until now. Maybe I have not made much progress in my career because I am bitter about the past, how I graduated college at the wrong time; how I took on too much debt for no reason; how I didn’t pay attention in school; how I didn’t put in enough resumes last year, or the year before that or the year before that. Translating that bitterness towards the customers gives it fresh life and keeps me from breaking free.
Now, I’ve tried to be positive about customers before, and that fails after a while. But maybe the way is not to be positive about what they’re doing, or who they are, because after all you can’t know those things, and when you think about it nearly everyone is as clever and complex as you are, but anyway to disregard all that and focus on what you can control, how kind you are to them and to yourself, that may be the way. So if someone berates you unfairly, not to stand there and take it as if you deserved it, but rather to return to them a kind response and to remind yourself that you don’t deserve that kind of treatment, and move on. Any thought you have about their hopefully impending horrible death is fine, you’re allowed to have the thought, since thoughts don’t define who you are, but at the same time you don’t want to leave the present and walk very far down into that fantasy.
And you especially don’t want to do it and rationalize it by telling yourself that it will make good material for a story, since bitterness the paralytic will keep you from writing any stories.
So for me I will not seek to understand people tonight at work, only to be kind towards them and towards myself. We’ll see how happy I am at the end of the shift.