How I Found Joy on a Mall Bench
Note: If you suffer from diagnoses of anxiety, depression, or mental health concerns, please consult a health expert. While this exercise worked for me, it is not a substitute for medical attention.
A couple of months ago, I wasn't feeling great. I was anxious, despondent, and jittery. I would go to bed and wake up feeling this way.
As much as I tried, these sensations wouldn't go away. My angst was work-related, and the cloud of gloom was overwhelming. Nothing seemed to bring me joy. All I wanted to do was go home to bed, hide under the covers, and dwell in my misery... alone.
I would wake up and look for the heaviness. It was always happy to find me. However, one day after my morning meditation, I decided to take a break; I would look after myself and stay away from the place that was causing me so much misery.
A Change of Scenery
I had errands to run and someone to meet, and I found myself in a mall. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a fan of shopping, which means I don't frequent malls very often — yet there I was.
I had nowhere else to be, so I found a comfortable bench and sat, for two and a half hours. I watched the people going by; I heard snippets of their conversations. I spoke to no one; I watched what was going on inside and around me.
At one point, I discovered my mouth had turned upward — I was smiling at a baby. I noticed how her sweetness was warming my heart, and I realized the heaviness had gone.
I felt lighter, and when I thought about what had been causing me so much pain, I saw it with space and objectivity. It was just a situation, and it was separate from me.
Open Heart, Clear Mind
The unbearable discomfort disappeared once I stopped wanting the pain away and just sat with an open mind. I had finished negotiating with my thoughts and debating what could or couldn't work. Our conversation had run dry.
With an open heart and clear mind, options and solutions came.
By the time I got home, I noticed I was singing along to '80s lyrics, tapping my fingers to the beat. My joy had returned.
For those two and a half hours, I had invited pain to sit with me instead of trying to chase it away. Apparently, I was boring company for joylessness. It had better things to do than sit on a mall bench for two and a half hours. We said our goodbyes and let each other go.
Experiencing work-related stress? Try this class, Stop Feeling Overwhelmed with Tasks by mindfulness coach Jay Vidyarthi.
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