Something happened to me a few days ago that put me in a bad mood for a while. Someone I know, had a bit of an altercation with a member of my extended family. The person concerned stopped talking to me after it happened, even though it was nothing to do with me. I was left carrying around some emotional baggage.
I know it’s only a small thing, but we’d been talking regularly for years before this happened and suddenly, it’s like we’d never met.
After a couple of days ruminating about it, I was reminded of an old Buddhist parable about two monks. It goes a bit like this…….
Two Monks, one an elder monk who was very experienced, one a junior, were out walking one day. On their journey, they came to a river with a strong current, that they needed to cross.
Standing at the bank of the river was a young woman. She was upset, concerned that she’d be unable to cross on her own and asked the monks for help.
The monks, being celibate and being constrained by their vow never to touch a woman, hesitated for a moment. Then, the elder monk carefully picked up the woman, carried her across the river and set her down on the other bank.
The younger monk was astounded, but kept quiet and they continued on their journey. The journey continued in silence for an hour, then two, then three, until finally he couldn’t contain himself any longer.
“We are not permitted to touch a woman, yet you picked her up and carried across that river!”
The elder monk replies, “Brother, I set her down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”
It’s human nature to fall into the ‘victim’ mentality now-and-again. Something happens to us that we have no control over. Someone did, or said something that upset/angered/embarrassed us and it sticks with us for hours, or even days.
So, the result is now doubly painful. Not only was I suffering because of the initial event, but then, I went on to effectively punishing myself hours afterwards! And that additional suffering was my fault.
I should have behaved like the elder and wiser monk. Leaving the issue where it belonged… with the other person.
No one is immune. Even the most mindful people succumb to the weight of emotional baggage occasionally.
So, when this happens to you, recall the definition of mindfulness…
the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
And remember, the one thing I forgot… what other people do is never a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of them.
We can always choose to stop carrying all that mental baggage around with us. We can choose to set it down and instead be present and at ease.
Drop that emotional baggage and move on with your life. Let them worry about the reason behind their actions.