It’s within a mere second or a single breath, in which we pause to either react or respond to an action or situation. A reaction is so visceral, so quick and without thought it can reflect our emotion or feeling in an instant. Often it is our quick reaction keeping us from reaching our full potential as conscious individuals. A response requires further consideration. Mindfulness is a skill that deserves practice and one requiring much thought and care. I have found thatfinding awareness in the moment between reaction and response is an example of a mindfulness practice that can have a significant impact on our lives.
So how do we change this reactionary behavior?
Well, I’m no expert, but what comes to mind is something simple. “The simpler, the better” is the key answer to most of what I’ve learned over the years in regards to mindfulness and meditation. Recently, a wise and very mindful teacher shared with me her thoughts. Here are three reminders I took with me to help find that moment in time (or space) between reaction and response:
1. Let go – Stop worrying about all the things that distract us from the moment. Live in the moment and don’t be worried with the next task or list of to-dos. Worrying consumes our energy and from the perspective of Chinese medicine, it consumes our qi. The rumination or over-thinking of tasks or problems can be exhausting and a sign that our bodies are imbalanced.
2. Find the moment between thoughts and relish in it’s peacefulness. We are often thinking from one thought to the next and without pause, we have constant distraction. That pause is just what our minds need. In fact, that is where true wisdom lies. Relax and be comfortable with silence. Constant inner and outer dialogue is often an indication of too much internal heat or fire with in. Calm the fire by creating space.
3. Practice – Now take those exercises and put them into a daily practice. Find time to let go, live in the moment, and allow your thoughts to drift away as you focus on internal peace and quiet (I prefer that then saying nothing). If you find you need a focus, begin by following your breath. Inhale… exhale… and just be. Start with five minutes a day, set a timer if you think it might help you avoid watching the time. Continue to incorporate this practice more frequently and then start expanding the length of time. There is no magic to meditation, it’s better not to think about it too much. Don’t forget, it’s a life-long practice and like most things worth practicing, it will be worth your effort.
The more we are able to find peace with ourselves the greater our ability to is to actually find the moment in time between reaction and response. Our anger and frustrations in life can easily consume us and keep us at edge, like a bottle ready to explode. That is no way to live – always just a trigger away from explosion. So go find a cozy corner, take a seat, settle in, and let go!
Other mindful inspiration:
Growing Minds, of Milwaukee: empowering students and teachers through the use of mindfulness skills to create a better learning environment and stronger school community.
Join the Blue Zones Project Start making your community a happier, healthier place to live, work and play!