How many airports have you been in like this? Me neither.
Most of the airports that I spend my considerable time in look a lot more like this…
which got me thinking today about mindfulness at the airport, probably the LEAST mindful place on earth.
Mindfulness is defined as:
ˈmīndfəlnəs/ – a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it can sometimes be to focus one’s awareness on the present moment while accepting your feelings at the airport. Nearly every week I see dozens, if not hundreds, of people completely lose their minds over things at the airport that they not only have no control over, but that really have no bearing or impact on the present moment. I know how it feels, I used to be one of those people flying off the handle at airline employees because I was running late and the plane was running on time or staring down a flight attendant who refused to do something about the screaming kid in 10B right behind me!
No more. Part of the growth of my own mindfulness has been most tested and best utilized in the airport. What I have CHOSEN to do (and I emphasize the choice part because it is just that), is take the approach that you see on my daughter’s face in the top picture – “go with the flow, wherever that might take me.” I now recognize when my body starts to tense up because there is a non-stop talking 5 year old sitting next to me (as there was this morning on CLT-Boston) and I intentionally RELAX and remind myself that my own 5 year old daughter would be chattering on non-stop out of excitement and imagine how I would want someone treating her in the same situation. Instead of getting off the plane this morning angry, anxious, and annoyed I followed my young seatmate off the plane with a smile on my face thinking about my Josie and how much pure joy she has in her life.
I’ll likely never fix this problem – 824,000,000 people boarded planes in the United States last year! I will however, continue to exercise my own mindfulness in airports. At the very least I figure if I can do it in the midst of 823,999,999 other crazy nut jobs I should be able find a way to be mindful under my own roof with the 3 nut jobs that I share a house with every day!!! Maybe we should pray for them, not me?!?!