The Loud Talker & Mindful Monday: “Like when your mind is full.”

I’m sitting in the waiting room of the VA medical clinic in rural Illinois…waiting, hyper-aware of everyone around me: The old man in his wheelchair, snoring. The young man in an Army ball-cap sitting in the corner, cross-armed with a very serious  look. The middle-aged man cleaning his fingernails with a folded piece of paper. And me: not white, not old, not man. I try not to stand out but this place makes me very anxious. It’s where I wait. Every. Monday. Morning.

Then, to round out this hodgepodge of waiters, in walks the Loud Talker.

Everyone knows the famous Seinfeld Loud Talker. He’s on a cell phone in line at the grocery store. He’s sitting behind you on the hour-long train commute from work. He’s sharing TMI from a public bathroom stall somewhere. And here, in the quiet and anxious waiting room at the VA. Yeah, that guy.

He’s an old burly man, balding and walks with a limp. He doesn’t care that it’s quiet in here. He’s talking and not minding much else. That and his dingy Harley Davidson t-shirt make it real easy to create a stereotype in my mind about him. I try not to. As he walks in, loud-talking on his cellphone and taking up as much physical and audible space as he likes, I close my eyes for a minute, take some deep breaths and count to ten. He goes on loud-talking and I feel my blood pressure rise.

It’s gonna be that kind of day.

So, Loud Talker over there starts telling his buddy on the other end of the line, something like this:

“Yeah, you should read this. It’s that mindfulness thing.

“This lady told me about it. Uh-uh. No not a girlfriend. *Laughs*. This chic at the VA. A nurse or something. No, this is gooood. It’s called, um, *looks at magazine in his hand* mindfulness. It’s great for the stuff you’re going through, buddy. Yeah.

“It says *reading from the magazine again* ‘Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness…’ *pause*. Mind-full-ness. Ya know, like when your mind is full. Uh-uh.” 

Then he goes on to read the rest of the two-page article, word by word, loudly over the phone to his friend, and to everyone else in the waiting area. This is my Monday.

Why do I share this story? Because it was a lesson for me and I had to check myself. It was actually a pretty sweet article once I got over being read to by a Loud Talker in the waiting room of the VA. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. Just the basics. Deep breathing. Conscious awareness. Non-judgment. All of the elements I needed to practice that very day.

It was both a test and a reminder. Sometimes it is that simple.

In the middle of my own anxieties and judgments, the universe sent me a very loud reminder. Mindfulness is not an elite system to approach in high-priced yoga studios. It’s not a religious process only reserved for the righteous. And it’s certainly not anything that can be claimed by “experts.”

No, it’s a daily practice. It’s a tool we can use whenever we choose to access it. It’s a reminder that we are all just trying our best to be whole, happy and connected. Mindfulness is a state available to all of us, anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Thank goodness for that.

Your turn: When was the last time you got a loud reminder to be mindful? Tell me about it in the comments.

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