A Year of Mindfulness – 13 – Red Lights

Red Light
Photo by Kristaps Solims on Unsplash

The task this week was based around travelling in public, and required me to pay attention to the occurrences where I was stopped at a red light – either in a car, bus, bike or on foot. I was to use this enforced pause to focus on my breathing, my surroundings and be in the moment, rather than impatiently waiting and willing for it to end. Its intention was to encourage us to appreciate the mini breaks enforced on us, rather than be irritated by them.

So I suppose I should begin with the obvious – that I couldn’t do the task this week. We are still in lockdown, and I don’t encounter any traffic lights on my daily exercise, which is really the only time I’m out of the house at the minute. It seems that even the creators of this challenge took the ability to be outdoors and travelling in public for granted!

Usually, however – back in the real world – I get so aggravated by red lights. Whenever I’m driving somewhere or even walking to work after my bus commute, I groan inwardly when I have to stop. When I thought more about why I see them as such an inconvenience, I realised that I feel as though I’m always in a rush to be or get somewhere, and so a stop light does nothing more than hold me up. That made me feel a little sad – I thought I was pretty good at being mindful, but apparently not in the case of general travelling or commuting. Here’s my public vow to change that and slow down a little when things go back to normal.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

– Ferris Bueller

I was unable to literally conduct this week’s task. Metaphorically, however, I suppose lockdown is essentially one giant red light, isn’t it? Whether we like it or not, we have all been made to take an enforced pause. From now on, maybe I’ll treat being in lockdown in the same way as I was supposed to treat being stopped at a traffic light. Rather than be agitated by it and focusing on its inconvenience, I’ll use the time to reflect, be present and appreciate the break that’s been enforced on me.

In the words of the legend that is Ferris Bueller (and if you haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, how you have gotten this far in life?! Get on Amazon or Netflix and watch it immediately), “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Maybe that’s the key to take away from this week’s challenge and current circumstances.

See you next week!


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