The other day, early in the morning I went to the gym as usual. So I go up to the gym, and just before I get on the elliptical fitness trainer, I’m talking to somebody whom I don’t know very well and as he is talking to me a little bit of spit pops out of his mouth (you know how that happens) and lands on my arm. Of course I do not immediately pull out a handkerchief and wipe the spit away, because that would be impolite. I go to the elliptical fitness machine, get on to it, start walking briskly on it, make sure that the concerned person is not watching me, then very casually pull a handkerchief out of my pocket and wipe the offended arm.
You know, I usually meditate when I am on the fitness machine. So here I am, trying to meditate, but that spot on the arm where my friend’s spit fell sort of keeps calling out to me, calling for my attention. And I know why that’s happening: subconsciously I am worried that maybe his spit carried some disease, and that now it’s on my skin, and that disease might diffuse through my skin into my bloodstream and I might get sick. Or maybe I might get a skin disease. That little spot on my arm just kept calling out to me, kept pulling my attention towards itself.
Now, meditation is a situation where you should be in a very peaceful and intensely aware state. I experience it very often, and it is a state of absolute stillness. But the mental “noise” that the spot of skin was making was certainly a disturbance. So I decided that I had to get the better of it.
I reminded myself that the skin calling out to me in my mind was nothing but a thought. It was not the essential “Me”. As I said earlier, the essential “Me” is absolutely peaceful and aware. The skin clamoring for attention was just like, say, a noise being made by a pump. It was not absolutely necessary for me to give it any attention. And if I did not give it attention, nothing was going to happen. What I had do was ignore it, and ignore it I did.
In going through this process, I became mentally stronger. I became more able to turn away from my mind whenever I felt like it. In other words, I increased my capability to be detached.
Thank you, little bit of spit, for teaching me this lesson!
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