About 18 years ago while traveling in England, I was fascinated with the Underground, London’s public metro system. When catching a train, I would pause and take a breath while reading “mind the gap”. At that time, I did not have a regular meditation practice, and for some reason, I intuitively would just do this practice. Since that time, I often wonder if we had reminders like “Mind the Gap” around our homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces, restaurants, etc…. just how we might infuse a more skillful management to our lives. The impact this would have over time would be extraordinary.
When I am counseling my patients on health or sexual issues, I often use the example of gaps. Between each breathe there is a gap, a pause, a space and between each second to the next. How well are you minding or tending to those gaps? Are you aware of the gaps or are mindlessly hurrying to the end of your day to get between your sheets and resign yourself to another day accomplished and caught in thought for the next?
In our frenzied pace from sunrise to sunset, our daily events run together as if it’s just a string of details that are strung together on a very tight rope. The unfortunate aspect (or fortunately, really) to the tightness of this type of life, it often falls apart and all of the seemingly solid, fixed details grumble into pieces. Guess where they grumble into….the moment, the gap. Whether we are caught in a bantering match with our lover or consuming unhealthy food or hoping the next sexual experience finally meets our expectation, the gap exists.
In pausing and dropping mindfully into the gap, there exists the possibility of meeting the moment with openness, acceptance and compassion even if we want to win the argument or eat a cake all to ourselves or have multiple orgasms. Just the awareness brings us to that precious minding of the gap. Here we have the capacity and potential to ride the wave of thought and emotion, but not be the thought or emotion.
Navigating each gap of life takes practice. Put reminders up around your home and work place to alert you to 'mind the gap'. Begin training yourself with tuning into just one breathe every few hours, taking notice of your narratives as they arise, just notice….label it “story” and return to the breathe in the moment. Emotions and sensations will be certain to arise and again, notice it, label them and return to your breathe.
In coming to live mindfully, our lives transform from a linear series of stressful occurrences to acceptance of “and this too”. So mind the gap of your life and in the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences".