It’s been a rough week so far. I’ve had a particularly harrowing time in getting my passport renewed. It’s my fault, entirely. I have trouble filling forms, following processes, waiting in endless queues and dealing with ambiguity. I wasn’t well prepared on the day of my appointment with the passport officer. A crucial document got left out and so I had to re-book my appointment and go through the drill… all over again.
The first time around, I got back home in the evening in a very rotten mood. This time, I was not going to allow some processes suck me into an uncomfortable state. So I decided that apart from being more organised, I will, throughout the process of going from counter to counter in the office, try different types of meditation. It was a game I was playing with myself. I was surprised with how well it actually worked.
Zen meditation: While waiting in the queue
My Reiki master taught me this method. I used to cycle around the lake in Kodaikanal when vacationing in that charming hill station. Through this method, I became completely aware of every movement of the legs (making their way towards the counter) or the craning of the neck (to check how much longer). It makes the wait less painful. In fact, even if someone cut the queue, I only observed and didn’t get angry.
Awareness meditation: While seated at the waiting area
This is similar to Zen meditation. However, in this, one focuses only on one sensory experience. I focused on a child, who was restless and running all around the waiting area. I didn’t necessarily have to see the child all the time to do this. I became aware of the sounds the child was making; how she was pestering her mother for ice-cream; the clothes she was wearing; the watch worn awkwardly on her right hand, etc.
Breathing meditation: While seated at the counter
The official took away all my original documents to scan and feed into the system. It was not a long wait but because I didn’t have much to do, it felt very long. So I started to focus on my breathing. I took deep breaths and paid attention to the ebbing and rising of my stomach as I was breathing. The wait seemed short, somehow.
Open-eye meditation: While waiting to go to the next counter
There wasn’t much place to sit at the next counter, as it was quite crowded. So I stood, waiting for my token number to appear on the LCD screen. I focused only on the screen and didn’t allow my mind to waver at all. When other thoughts came into my mind, I pushed them away and observed only the screen.
Creative visualisation: During an argument between two officials
This sounds a bit quirky but it works. When two officials argued about some process that needed more accurate checking, it was uncomfortable for us customers to watch. I tried the creative visualisation meditation. I imagined that the words that the officials spoke filled up a bus. The more they spoke, the more the words filled up the bus. When they stopped talking, I imagined that the bus drove away taking away with it all the negativity.
Meditation is really about being completely aware to the world around us. When we decide to hold that string of calm within us, it becomes difficult to shake us up from within.
The writer is a Bangalore-based commentator.