It usually goes something like this; Someone says or does something, we perceive it to be offensive or threatening, and immediately, we have an emotional reaction, perhaps fear or anger, and we act on that fear or anger by taking action without thinking about it. Perhaps we say something, or strike out at someone, or make any number of poor choices, out of fear, or anger. We do so automatically, without awareness. This scenario is typical of all of us at least once in awhile. I think it would be impossible not to do so on occasion.
But, imagine how different things might turn out if we chose to pay attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement. If we were to practice this mindful awareness and choose to pay attention during critical moments, I suggest that the course of our lives and relationships would be radically different. In fact,
The practice of Mindfulness is the practice of “paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, non judgementally.“(Jon kabat-Zinn)
Mindfulness is; “Paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, non judgementally!” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Typically, if we are in a conversation with someone, and we feel something emotionally in response to something the other person says, how we respond will be greatly influenced by the emotion we feel at the time. If he or she says something we don’t like, we will usually say or do something in response, in proportion to the level of emotion we feel at the time. So, if we react to something someone does, and take action accordingly, out of anger, we are giving up control of our lives in that moment to the one who “makes us angry.”
The emotion itself should not be what determines our response. When we are feeling emotional, and are not particularly conscious of that emotion, or not being objective about it, it is difficult to think rationally. That is why there are so many “crimes of passion,” for example. But, when we separate emotion, thought, and action, and we choose to pay attention to them, without judgement, we gain significant control over our ability to think clearly, and respond logically. Many people are so used to automatically reacting to certain events that trigger them emotionally, they do not realize that these situations represent a series of two or more separate and independent events. Someone says something and the other person feels angry, shouts, or swings a fist, all with little or no awareness of their emotional state, or thought about what they do or say in response. When being “mindful,” or “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non judgementally,” We are fully conscious of what we are experiencing emotionally, yet we simply view it as something that is occuring, kind of like viewing data, and almost with disinterest, as it’s there but it doesn’t really matter. We are able to use our logical mind independent of our emotions, and consider whether we want to respond, how we will respond, the words we want to use, or whether we want to just ignore it altogether. We can be aware of the presence of the emotion or thought, and still think logically, clearly, and independently of that emotion or thought.
The “non-judgement” aspect of mindfulness is the piece that makes it a such a powerful therapeutic tool. In that regard, mindful awareness of our suffering, say emotional pain for instance, as well as non judgement of that pain, resulting in acceptance, usually leads to less suffering from the pain, and ultimately reduction of the experience of pain. The important thing here is that the goal has to be the acceptance of pain, not the elimination of it. But when the acceptance happens, most often the experience is that eventually there is a reduction of the feeling of pain and suffering as well
The practice of Mindfulness has proven to be an exceptionally powerful tool for dealing with just about any kind of suffering, whether as a therapeutic tool for dealing with deep suffering, or as a meditative exercise, a part and practice of everyday life.
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