We’ve all got habitual, conditioned patterns of re-activity that happen without much (conscious) thought. If something’s unpleasant, we distract ourselves; we leave. Physically, we may turn to the phone or computer, go shopping or running, turn on the news, music, a movie, (over) eat or drink. We veer away from unwanted thoughts or feelings. When these actions, useful and entertaining in some moments, become mindless distractions, they can diminish our capacity to be fully alive. How do we intervene mindfully, to move beyond a distracting habit, a conditioned re-activity by the mind to protect the self? When we’re frustrated, bored, anxious, angry, fearful or sad, what if we were to greet that moment with curiosity?
Mindfulness means we begin by pausing… gently softening the contracted places – brow, jaw, throat, shoulders, hands, belly… aware of breath, paying attention – opening to our experience. What am I aware of? How am I responding to that awareness? We begin noticing when we are avoiding our experience. Any time we use reactive fight or flight or freeze or numbing to get rid of that which we don’t want, we diminish our capacity to be touched, to be fully alive in this moment.
If we invite curiosity into the mind/body, right at that moment of noticing the avoidance of what’s happening, we can be awake and alive to our experiences with increasing clarity and equanimity. These qualities gradually replace our old reactive habit patterns and become enduring traits of consciousness.
Filed Under: Monthly Musings