Is mindfulness magic? It has powers. Does it also have limits?
Mindfulness has become my way of life. Thanks to the practice, I am living, fully and completely, in the present moment. Living mindfully helps me quiet mental chatter and focus on what is happening in the world I can take in with my senses. I’ve come to expect great things from mindfulness, but I’ve never believed that it was magic or esoteric or supernatural or something originating in Area 51. But then, mindfulness dismissed from jury duty.
Mindfulness in the Jury Box
I was recently summoned to jury duty. On one hand, I was excited. I’ve always wanted to be on a jury. On the other, I wasn’t wild about having to do it, given that I’m busy just like the other 374 potential jurors with me that day. I sat in the cavernous waiting room, minutes and hours passed. In the afternoon, a judge summoned 36 people to his courtroom, including me. Lawyers questioned 12 prospects, and then one by one dismissed some and replaced them with different prospects.
By the time the clerk called my name, I had decided that I’d be pretty happy if I didn’t make the cut, but I’d accepted the very real possibility that I would be on this jury. (I do believe in doing my part in civic duty. I just noticed that sitting still and listening quietly for hours and hours isn’t my strong suit).
That day was an excellent opportunity for mindfulness. I noticed a lot about the courtroom and the people in it. I picked up on hallway noises and felt the silence in the room between words uttered. I smelled the onion on my hands from removing red onion from my sandwich at lunch. For the most part, I listened to words spoken. Therefore, I felt calm as I approached the box. I wondered, though, what would happen. What would they ask me? Would I be part of this trial? Anxiety of the unknown stirred within me ever so slightly.
Suddenly, a mist filled the room, and when it cleared, I was outside, excused from jury duty. Just kidding. That didn’t happen. I answered a laundry list of questions from first one attorney then the other. I waited as lawyers questioned someone else. Next came another dismissal. The clerk called my name. I was done.
Mindfulness is Powerful but not Magical
Mindfulness did get me through a day of jury duty in a calm, content state of mind. It also got me out of jury duty, but not in the magical, mystical sort of way that would have been amazing.
It got me out of jury duty in an indirect way. To answer a question asked of me by the prosecuting attorney, I used an analogy involving mindfulness, and then when she didn’t embrace that answer enthusiastically, I went on to explain the concept of mindfulness. I thought it was a fantastic answer that would be helpful to the people in the room. However, I might have been the only one who appreciated the information at that moment. The court let me know in no uncertain terms that my role was not to educate people in that setting.
In a unique way, mindfulness did get me out of jury duty. It did it in a way that carried me positively into the evening. For a tiny fraction of a second, self-critical anxiety swept in as I began to rehash my experience in the courtroom and worry about what I said, how I acted, and imposed a bunch of “should” and “shouldn’t haves” on myself.
Then, the beautiful October foliage captured my attention, and I stopped and admired it. I walked a couple of blocks to a little outdoor space I love, and sat for a few moments in mindfulness, grounding myself in the moment. Then I laughed at myself for using mindfulness to answer a question from a lawyer. It did indeed get me out of jury duty.
Mindfulness isn’t a supernatural superpower. Mindfulness is an ability within you that gives you the “superpower” of perspective, calm, contentment, and quality of life.
Mindfulness: What it Can, Cannot Do
Mindfulness can improve our lives in many ways. It doesn’t, though, perform feats of wonder to change things for us as we sit passively by. This image illustrates a few things that mindfulness can and cannot do.
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