I wrote my last post about my not-so-mindful behavior in the jury lounge of the local Superior Court, waiting to see if I’d be called to serve as a juror on a case.
I wasn’t, but the situation ended up being stressful nonetheless, and it had nothing to do with my forgetting that I had a metal fork in my backpack and being called out by security for it. (Oops!)
No, what did it was the runaway narrative being played out in my head about potential frustration if I were selected, and whether I could manage all the facts of the case (chemo brain) and the sitting (neuropathy and back pain). While not completely inconsequential, neither chemo brain nor physical limitations were an issue for me as I was sitting in the jury lounge, waiting.
That evening, released from jury duty for another year, I came across an article by beading teacher and author Kristal Wick, who settled on beading as meditation to help her deal with her monkey mind, and in it she wrote about her realization that we are making stress up.
I would clarify that by noting that we don’t make up stressful events themselves, but the toll that anticipating what may happen takes on us depends in great part on our reaction to it. And whether or not we want to admit it, ultimately that’s under our control — although if we’ve established a behavior pattern of anxious reactivity (*cough, cough*), it will take practice to rein in those responses.
But the reminder that those “thousand deaths” that I was dying in advance of something that was not real or guaranteed…ahhhh, I needed that.
Next time a calmer, more realistic response, perhaps?
Mindful media blogger Smilecalm wrote a beautifully thoughful account of his experience as a juror, and I found it so compelling that it became fodder for an evening of discussion with my husband and children.
In his post, Smilecalm describes how mindfulness creates a situation where justice truly prevails. Whereas it would have been easy to make a snap judgment and convict someone who seemed, on the surface, to be guilty, pausing and carefully sorting through the facts provided a different picture.
When I think of the concept of “beginner’s mind”, I think of this kind of patience and open examination of what is before you, instead of moving down well-worn paths to conclusions based on circumstances.
I am sure that the defendant in Smilecalm’s case was grateful for the care with which the jurors considered his testimony. I, for one, am grateful to Smilecalm for bringing to light not only the importance of serving on a jury, but doing so with care and compassion.