Retail often makes the practice of Zen difficult. The often childish nature of customers and employers slowly eat at the practitioner. I, at least, often expect people to behave more maturely. Of course, such work is also difficult for me because I have social anxiety and other social issues.
We must always remember that the blathering, loud, and often obnoxious customer is suffering. They wouldn’t be reacting so if they weren’t suffering in their life, after all. I often fail at this and move to my easy, old habit of demonizing or viewing that person as inherently obnoxious. The actions of the moment doesn’t define that person. They may be having a bad day, are in pain, or any host of difficulties. They are suffering.
Granted, when my back problems are acting up during a stressful day these thoughts are far out of reach. Stealing a moment for myself tends to help. I turn to my breathing and focus for four breaths:
In. I release my stress.
Out. I relax my mind.
In. I see this person.
Out. I see their suffering.
I can’t always do this but trying is enough. Sometimes all I can do is project my current physical discomfort, like my back ache, onto them to generate some compassion. The same technique works with co-workers and even bosses. The attachment to money causes owners to pressure managers. Who pass down their suffering to those who work under them. Really, with how imminent death is for each of us the pursuit of money is very sad. This idea helps us have compassion for our stressed out managers and business owners; they are pursuing something that is a waste of time in the end. They are ignorant to what is truly important.
Zen is a simple practice but challenging to preform. Just remember not to be harsh on yourself for failures. I fail in mindfulness almost daily. I dislike loud noise and lots of people. Over time this makes me lose my touch with my calm center. It is only human to do so time to time. Just don’t give up your reach for the true, peaceful self.