One of the greatest benefits for me, of practicing mindfulness, has been to notice when I’m getting caught up in my stories and creating additional stress for myself.
Did you know that we react to imagined (perceived) threats in the same way that we react to a real threat? So for example, if I am rushing to a meeting and get caught in a traffic jam, and in my mind, I start worrying about what everyone is going to think of me for being late, how the meeting is going to be a disaster now, what if I don’t get there in time, what will “they” think, the physiological response in my body is the same as if I were to come face to face with a lion!
Through mindfulness practice, I become aware of my physical responses to the external stressor – my clenched fists on the steering wheel, tight jaw, scowling face, thumping heart, emotions of irritation and frustration, the thoughts about being late, the other bad drivers, and so on.
This is a situation that is completely out of my control and this reaction I’m having is not going to change it.
If I catch myself I can remember to breathe, remind myself that the situation is not actually life-threatening, and sometimes I’ve even been surprised, because in that moment, as I come back to the present, I notice the beautiful sky… feel compassion for the other drivers who are in the same situation that I’m in… and arrive at my meeting in a far calmer state and more able to contribute something of significance.
Most times I’m not even late.
To find out more about our next Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, please go to http://www.simplicitycoaching.co.za/mindfulness-coaching/
For an interesting talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn about “thoughts”, see this link: http://bigthink.com/videos/jon-kabat-zinn-on-meditation-and-thoughts-as-bubbles
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