Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Be aware. Be VERY aware.

"I should have taken a shower before class. This top accentuates my collar bones nicely. Argh--why is it so humid today? I really wish I were eating a pomelo."

Is there any limit to the utter insanity of mental chatter? Sit down to meditate or practice yoga and you see the stuff that comes up is absurd. As Jack Kornfield likes to say, the mind has no shame. And usually, the thoughts that come up are one rerun after the next.

Isn't stopping the flow of chatter what we mean when we say we want to increase our awareness? We do yoga and meditation because we hope that our valiant efforts will eventually quiet our crazy monkey mind and that we'll go through life more engaged, focused, calm, and level-headed. But there are other ways in which we are not aware. Take me, for instance: I'm a dweller.

I am still dwelling on a conversation I had with a colleague last week. Well, obsessing is probably the right word.

I'm currently enrolled in a psychology class. Although it's not my area of expertise, psychology has always interested me, and as I've gotten older that interest has expanded into a full-on preoccupation. One of the things psych teachers will tell as you settle into the first day is that you're going to learn about lots of odd disorders. You're going to learn how psychologists diagnose people. And under no circumstances are you to attempt to apply these criteria to yourself or the people you know. It takes training, not an introductory course, to correctly diagnose patients, and what's more, you can't ever objectively diagnose yourself or people you're close to. So don't even try.

Got it! Makes perfect sense, right? I will never do that. Of course not.

Ha. Ha, ha.

In the aforementioned conversation with the colleague, he mentioned a behavioral tick that set off a little bell of recognition in my head. I eagerly asked my coworker a couple of followup questions, and before I could check myself, I sputtered, "Oh! That sounds like a symptom of ________!" I then followed up with, "do you also get X, Y, and Z?" before catching myself and apologizing profusely.

Despite my apology, the conversation ended awkwardly. And I don't blame the person. Ugh, imagine getting an armchair assessment from your coworker! (Especially if there's a grain of truth in their observations ;-)

So, on the one hand, that little scenario would indicate a lack of awareness on my part. I shouldn't have jumped to judge the guy. But also note my above statement: "I am still dwelling on a conversation I had with a colleague last week." Seriously? Last week? Is rumination essential to awareness? How many present moments am I skipping out on when I berate myself  for a) disobeying a teacher (I have this thing about disobeying perceived authority figures) and b) potentially causing distress to a coworker.

I guess this is why we practice yoga and meditate. Doing so rockets us out of our heads and back into our bodies, enabling us to be present.

Well, except for the pomelos and the collarbones ;-)

A tasty pomelo

Pomelo cat also enjoys pomelos


Dorothy said...

I think this is a good time to apply a couple of my favorite philosophies: 1) for the diagnosis of the colleague - acknowledge and move on. I think you've nailed the 'acknowledge' part. Now you just have to move on. You intended no malice. And you apologized - sincerely. Nothing more you can do. Your colleague will be okay. 2) for the disregard to your teacher - fuck it.

Of course, these two things could indicate that I have anti-social tendencies. What do you think?

La said...


dude, this is what it's like to live in my head too! except i do it for work. what was i thinking when i thought i wanted to be a counsellor?

one trick i can share is to not hold yourself back from analyzing, but do hold your tongue (tho i see it's a tad too late). But mistakes happen. now time to analyze how he reacted to the situation!!

lol i know, i'm a twisted individual. and to think i also teach yoga. haha! i do like pomelos though...

Yolk E said...

Nah, no anti-social tendencies :-) You make too much sense for that! (Oh, wait a second!)

Lala, we gotta talk!!