How I Found Joy on a Mall Bench

3 min Article Meditation & Mindfulness
The unbearable discomfort disappeared once I stopped wanting the pain away and just sat with an open mind.
How I Found Joy on a Mall Bench

Note: If you suffer from diagnoses of anxiety, depression, or mental health concerns, please consult a health expert. While this exercise worked for me, it is not a substitute for medical attention.

A couple of months ago, I wasn't feeling great. I was anxious, despondent, and jittery. I would go to bed and wake up feeling this way.

As much as I tried, these sensations wouldn't go away. My angst was work-related, and the cloud of gloom was overwhelming. Nothing seemed to bring me joy. All I wanted to do was go home to bed, hide under the covers, and dwell in my misery... alone.

I would wake up and look for the heaviness. It was always happy to find me. However, one day after my morning meditation, I decided to take a break; I would look after myself and stay away from the place that was causing me so much misery.

A Change of Scenery

I had errands to run and someone to meet, and I found myself in a mall. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a fan of shopping, which means I don't frequent malls very often — yet there I was.

I had nowhere else to be, so I found a comfortable bench and sat, for two and a half hours. I watched the people going by; I heard snippets of their conversations. I spoke to no one; I watched what was going on inside and around me.

At one point, I discovered my mouth had turned upward — I was smiling at a baby. I noticed how her sweetness was warming my heart, and I realized the heaviness had gone.

I felt lighter, and when I thought about what had been causing me so much pain, I saw it with space and objectivity. It was just a situation, and it was separate from me.

Open Heart, Clear Mind

The unbearable discomfort disappeared once I stopped wanting the pain away and just sat with an open mind. I had finished negotiating with my thoughts and debating what could or couldn't work. Our conversation had run dry.

With an open heart and clear mind, options and solutions came.

By the time I got home, I noticed I was singing along to '80s lyrics, tapping my fingers to the beat. My joy had returned.

For those two and a half hours, I had invited pain to sit with me instead of trying to chase it away. Apparently, I was boring company for joylessness. It had better things to do than sit on a mall bench for two and a half hours. We said our goodbyes and let each other go. 

Experiencing work-related stress? Try this class, Stop Feeling Overwhelmed with Tasks by mindfulness coach Jay Vidyarthi

Header Photo: gpointstudio/istock/Getty Images Plus

About the Teacher

Nicolle Kopping-Pavars

Nicolle Kopping-Pavars

After starting her career as a lawyer in Southern Africa in 1996, Nicolle Kopping-Pavars immigrated to Canada in 2008 with her husband, 1-year-old son and three suitcases. She had to completely rebuild her career in order to become accredited in her new country. She was successful in doing so, but something was missing. “Even though I was doing what I loved and what I believe I was called to do, I started sensing something dark lurking in the depths of my soul and I didn’t like it,” she says. Thus began her personal self-development journey, in which she read a lot, attended mindfulness retreats and workshops, and became a reiki practitioner. Although she was feeling better, she looked around at her colleagues, all of whom were stressed and overwhelmed, and felt she could do something more. From there, Nicolle committed to a yearlong teacher training certification focused on mindfulness in law, and in 2017, she went to Thailand for two weeks to deepen her practice and study with the monks in the northern part of Thailand. She furthered her teacher training by taking an intense teacher training course in the Forest Monk Therevada tradition. Nicolle founded Lotus-Law to introduce meditation, mindfulness and emotional intelligence to the legal profession and to the public at large. In 2020, Nicolle rebranded her practice as the Transformational Lawyer, through which she brings all her disciplines — law, reiki, energy work, crystals and mindfulness — under one umbrella.
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