Travel Woes

You have boarded your plane for a flight home and after twenty minutes the pilot announces that there is a backup of flights that will delay take-off for at least two hours. These aggravating and frustrating situations are the right time to practice when-which-how. When we encounter a particular situation that really upsets our emotional balance, the event is our opportunity to stay present and observe what is occurring to us internally. Take the role of the observer. Separate your feelings and thoughts from you, the observer. This can minimize the frustration.

Perhaps, this problem calls for understanding and humility (although additional virtues may apply here, we will keep it as simple as possible). How do you apply these virtues to this situation? After examining your own internal state, it is time to reach out to others, either internally or externally, or both ways.

For example, if the person next to you is very upset over the situation, you may want to outwardly express your own frustration, but then talk about the problem in a positive manner through the virtue of understanding. The humility virtue could be introduced by pointing out that probably everybody on the plane has plans that are going to be disrupted by the delay. In other words, you’re communicating that everyone is stuck in the same situation.

You can then direct into the emotional field of the aircraft the virtues you feel are most suited to the event. This does two things. First, it helps to calm the situation by introducing positive emotional energy into the collective field. Second, it takes the focus off yourself and consequently reduces, or cuts off the flow of negative emotions that are present in your individual field. The point being, that if you are expressing coherence through the practice of when-which-how, you are focused on the higher self and energetic heart—not on the ego-personality. You are then part of the higher circulatory flow of the soul, rather than the lower, less refined circulation of the ego-personality world.

A Friend in Need. Often we are confronted with a situation in which a friend is in crisis and needs to talk about it. Let’s suppose that a friend has come to you to talk about a personal problem. You are lending a sympathetic ear and providing a sounding board for your friend’s situation. This is an external expression of compassion and understanding but how can you further apply the virtues to this crisis? For example, you might extend your compassion to the internal dimension by visualizing compassion outflowing from your heart into your friend’s heart. This internal activation of one or more virtues could very well be more powerful and effective than your sympathetic listening, although both are important.

A helpful point here is to realize that activating the practice of when-which-how in our daily lives runs counter to our habitual style of social interaction. For the most part, we are used to interacting with others at the physical level of life. Therefore, when we are sitting down with a friend who needs to talk about a problem, we automatically communicate (words and body language) at the physical level. We are probably feeling sympathy and maybe empathy, but we are not pro-actively engaging our friend on an internal level. Granted, much may be occurring at the sub-conscious level, but our goal is to become conscious practitioners, not to be simply passive sympathizers.

When-which-how deals with the internal, subjective emotional level in a pro-active way. We are intentionally directing specific heart virtues at our friend or at whatever the encounter happens to be. We are not in the custom of interacting with others (or ourselves, for that matter) in this way. This is why we forget to engage the practice so often and it is why we need to work hard at training ourselves to remember to be present, to observe, and to practice.