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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our own response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.- Viktor F. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Himself
This idea we can learn underneath our emotions, if we feel a sense of guilt, if we feel a sense of anger, there’s often something that is instructive to us. Now, the very clear distinction here is that our emotions are data, not direction. We can always learn from them or dominated bythem.- Susan David, author of Emotional Agility
Exercise: Take your time to settle down and get centered. Let the strong emotion or feeling you have recently experienced or you’re experiencing now visit you. Be centered and relate to the emotions to be data rather than direction. Listen to your emotions and hear what they are telling you about yourself. You’re learning the art of responding to your emotional experience rather than reacting to your experience. You’re learning how to work through your emotional experience and grow from it.
What is the impact of someone’s unwelcoming or disturbing behavior on you? How do you choose to respond and not react? How can you be the change you want to see in the other person?
Recall an event when you were derailed by your negative or destructive emotion, when your negative emotion hijacked you.Your intention is to respond, not to react. Your intention is to safeguard, preserve and nourish your core values of a healthy relationship.
Be mindful of your habitual counter- productive ways of dealing with such situations. Do you relate to such situations by minimizing, ignoring, brooding, bottling or rationalizing rather than working on such situations mindfully? Do you allow yourself to get stuck or bound by the thoughts and feelings you have experienced or you’re experiencing now? If you do not relate to them mindfully, the harmful cycle will perpetuate.The opportunity to learn and grow from such experiences will be lost. It’s your choice and I hope and wish you will make the wise choice though it may be difficult to begin with.
Breath is the universal place to focus and deepen our attention. Breath is the portal to be with the presence. Breath brings us here and now from there and then. Breath is the anchor for our wandering mind to be present, steady and grounded. Breath brings us home. Breath becomes our home base. Deep, long and full belly breathing creates and sustains relaxation response. Listen to your breath moment to moment, this breath and another breath, and connect yourself with your breath.Resting on our breath restores and saves our energy. Gentle relaxing breath creates a flow in our body and mind. Where attention goes, energy flows. Gentle, soft and deep breathing creates space within us to relate to our bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings mindfully and compassionately. Breath helps us open the two wings of our self: awareness and compassion, authenticity and empathy.
As the presence grows in our consciousness, we let the waves of thoughts and emotions come in the foreground and the breath be in the background. Put your caring hand on your belly and feel the subtle movement of your breath. Put your loving hand on your heart and feel the subtle movement of your breath. Feel the rising and falling, the inflow and the outflow of the breath. If your attention gets drifted, gently relax back into the the flowing stream of your breath. Allow yourself to breathe with the life that is here and now. Be intimate with the present. Love it. Welcome the gladdening heart. Welcome the showering of joyful flowers. This is the season of life, the celebration of life. Savor it. Cherish it. Be grateful for such a gift coming from your heart.
We know our mind, the monkey mind, the wandering mind, dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. We are familiar with our not-enough syndrome, striving for more, looking for something more and living in the mental world of discontent. This is described as chasing the mirage. We strive to fill the cup of life by chasing things from outside, by trying to achieve this and that not knowing the source of contentment and fulfillment is within us. Our mind is conditioned to look out for the source of happiness. Our mind is also conditioned to be shameful for not doing the right thing. It is also conditioned to blame others when things go wrong for ourselves. Our work is to decondition the conditioned mind to create new pathways to peace, happiness and our well-being.
Take a U Turn. The practice of mindfulness creates self-awareness. It opens our inner eyes to see where we are going. It helps us realize we are going on the wrong way, the way that hurts us and others in our life. It drains and depletes our energy. It is a downward path. Daily mindfulness practice wakes us up from our slumber. And we take a U Turn. We discover our right way, the way that slowly and gradually helps us regain our lost identity. We find our true self, our essence, our original self. As the saying goes, know thyself and thou will be free, freedom that evokes compassion and love and brings deep contentment, fulfillment, joy, peace and happiness. We feel at home.
Serving others without expecting any external reward and recognition is also a way of deconditioning our mind, going beyond the ego-formulated self-centered boundaries. Feeling for others is innate in all of us. As we become free from the ego- centered consciousness, feeling for others, kindness and compassion naturally arise in our heart and we extend our helping hands to others who need our help.Serving others unconditionally brings blessings to us. It takes us out of the low energy depressive cycle. Research studies support the benevolent effects of serving others.Giving away small 29 gifts in 29 days changes our biochemistry and neural circuits. It positively affects energy vibrations. It creates a shift from lower and weak energy frequencies to higher and vibrant energy frequencies creating feelings of joy and happiness, a sense of belonging to a greater whole.Take time to take in to savor and cherish such consciousness expanding and uplifting feelings and bodily sensations. We just naturally and spontaneously feel happy for no reason.
Regular mindfulness practice gladdens our heart and radiates joyful energy. Practicing mindfulness practice in a group creates and widens positive energy vibrations. That’s why satsanga, doing contemplative spiritual practices with others is very beneficial. It is like one lamp enkindles the other generating enlightening presence. In satsanga, we learn from a spiritual teacher, inquire with an open mind and a grateful heart, feel inspired, share our highs and lows, get support and encouragement from others as we are going through the journey of awakening. As we are experiencing more and more turmoil and stress in the world we live in, we need to have oasis of satsanga to keep our mind and heart open and filled with positive energy. As we walk on this path regularly, there is going to be a ripple effect and others will be touched by it. The virtuous circle will expand to do greater good.