Andy's Daily Headspace: Herd mentality

November 15, 2011

Andy's Daily Headspace: Herd mentality

This morning I took an early morning ride on the tube, or the subway, as our transatlantic cousins prefer to call it. Usually I cycle around town, so I’d forgotten the morning madness that takes place hundreds of meters underground. As I looked around the carriage, or at least as much as I was able to look around with my face squashed against the window, I couldn’t help but think how funny we must all have looked.

And it’s not just underground that we look funny. When I got back up top to street level I decided to step back a little, out of the main crowd, just to stand and watch everyone pour out of the tube entrance. In many ways it wasn’t that different from the scenes of migrating animals that you sometimes see on the wildlife channel, and there was definitely a herd like mentality - although with certain individuals arguably a little less well-behaved and considerably less polite than the wildebeest.

But I guess it was only in stepping back and seeing the situation from a slightly different perspective that I was able to make this observation. When I was in the middle of it all, caught up in it, it was very difficult to see what I was in the middle of. If you think about it, this is a very similar process to when we sit down and meditate. We’re accepting what’s there, without trying to change it in anyway, but at the same time getting a fresh perspective on thoughts and feelings as they pass us by.

And whilst it can be tempting to long for meditation sessions that reflect calm, solitary walks in the countryside, rather than the craziness of rush-hour shared with several million others, there is something equally incredible to be found in both...if we can just step back for long enough to experience it for what it is, rather than what we’d like it to be.

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