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Erric Solomon

Holding the Train in Your Arms

This was sent in by Melle, a friend of ours from the Netherlands...

Holding the train in your arms

The train can be an excellent place to meditate. Especially when you manage to get a seat. The train I regularly commute on is one of the busiest lines in the country. It has the airport as one of its main stops and lots of business people use the coaches as their first working space of the day. You have the grumpy people hiding in their papers, avoiding any contact, and the rise-and-shine early chit-chat ladies all mixed together in a relatively small room, travelling at about 100 km/hr. Feelings are bound to rise, and not always in a very flowery way.


One day, after receiving some teachings on loving-kindness and compassion, I decided to give it a serious try in the field. Sitting in my chair I fixed my gaze in the space in front of me, just above the opposing chair, grazing the scalp of the passenger in it. I relaxed my breath and let myself become aware of the sounds surrounding me. A person talking into a phone. A bit too loud. Two ladies talking. About insignificant things. Very loudly. A young guy listening too rap music. Very uninspiring. And a bit too loud. Someone flipping a newspaper. Maybe a bit too aggressive. And loud.


Then I started imagining how the carriage I was sitting in would look from above. You would see all these different people, sitting, or standing, in their different spaces, all moving along in the same direction, without even realizing so. All these people being just another me: on the road to somewhere, hoping to have a good day, wanting to be happy and to escape the suffering going on everywhere, be it a tragedy in the family or the hammering drudge of an everyday routine.

After letting this thought float through my mind for a while, I realized that this wasn't the only carriage in the train. And that all the carriages in this train were doubledeckers. And that it was an extra long train because of the rush hour. That's a whole lot of people chipped together, each in his or her own bubble, but all wanting the same thing and travelling in the same direction.

Then I pictured each one of the people I could see around me with a smile. A smile like you have when you leave your job after a days hard work. It's a sunny day and you suddenly remember that actually the weekend has started! Almost anybody will recognize that feeling and almost anybody will have his or her typical smile to go with that moment. I imagined the whole train, every person in it, smiling in that particular way, and boy, did that change the atmosphere!

All of a sudden the phone calls going on around me weren't that annoying anymore. It was simple communication going on. Just like the two ladies chattering: the sound of people sharing something and not being alone. Someone really enjoying the music they love the most. Someone scanning headlines and connecting with the world.

When the time came to leave the train, I almost felt sorry I had to leave all these people behind. We travelled together for half an hour, at the same speed, on the same track, in the same direction, sharing the same goal. So while leaving the train and gently pushing my way through the mob shuffling in front of the exit, softly smiling I thought: May you all be happy, may you safely continue your journey and i thank you for letting me travel with you today.

Holding the train in your arms