In today’s uncertain world we often find ourselves off-kilter, emotionally. We may recognise these times by way of our increased judgemental (negative) thoughts, our feelings (anger, anxiety), and our behaviours, (rage, intolerance, substance abuse, and more).
So, what’s to do?
If we can bring ourselves and our perspectives to a more realistic level of awareness, we can find a more philosophical world view and response to life – along with its dynamic state of impermanence. But to do this requires us to react less, and observe, consider, and respond more because then we serve ourselves and others in more optimal ways. Our mental and physical health will improve, along with potential gains in our performance at work, at play, and in our relationships.
All sounds great, right? So just HOW do we establish such a skillful way of being without relying on controlling our environments, the people around us, or denying ourselves what we truly deserve? How about waking up?
Just WAKE UP!
You might say you are awake enough already, thank you very much! You work long hours and have a frenetic, stressful lifestyle – of course you’re awake! BUT how many of your waking hours are you operating on autopilot or burning thru the day? Ask yourself:
- How many times do I walk into a room only to forget why I went there?
- How often do I catch a nagging sense that something isn’t quite right, but I let it slide anyway?
- When I eat a meal, do I appreciate each, and every, mouthful?
- When do I let another finish their sentence (and properly) and consider before responding?
To be truly awake, is to be conscious – AND aware that you are where you are and doing what you are doing – in that precise and exact moment! Now add a non-judgemental and purely observational take on what is in that moment and you can say, “I am awake!”
Bringing Focus to the Reality: A Sense Check
Being ‘mindful’ and practising meditation are much the same thing. If it helps, you can call it anything you like! How about “mind-training”? Does that help?
In bringing ourselves back to the present, the “here and now”, we can have a sharper insight into our experiences. Now to be fair and to give a note of caution here, this also means what is pleasurable, neutral, and if we judge OR observe it so, unpleasant!
To live life in the ‘here and now’ is to live life in the only place that truly exists = Reality.
Now, if I’m anxious, it’s likely to be about a future event, be that in a moment or in a year. By being present I can become ‘aware’ of, and ‘acknowledge’, my anxiety. Even better, I can decide if my emotion is warranted by asking “Is there an action to take right now?” Yes, always! Choose from the two below:
- Find and choose acceptance for what is now, and perhaps only for now.
- Take an appropriate action. If I’m hungry, eat. If I’m in danger – move away from the source. If I’m having fun, the action might simply be to appreciate and have gratitude that this is fun.
This too shall pass!
Regardless of the emotion, the event or the concern you become aware of, it will always pass! But, it may also re-present, frequently!
If you are finding your less positive emotions being triggered regularly to the degree that it interferes with your quality of life, then being more mindful, and with this, learning to ‘sit-with’ difficult emotions, creates space for exploring why you often feel the way you do. It could be (and most commonly is) because of training and experiences in our early years, that taught us:
- that what we would think and feel wasn’t important for whatever reason to those we relied on for our most basic needs. (So now, as an adult, it’s also become unsafe to communicate appropriately and effectively.)
- to internalise our big emotions and thoughts. (This inability to express ourselves leads us to a path of alternative behaviours to compensate – such as self-harm, addiction, infidelity, anger issues, anxiety, and depression.)
Therefore, for the icing on the emotional and beliefs and values ‘cake’ – we arrive at a position of not feeling as important as others; we have low self-esteem and we:
- become ‘givers’, not only to feel better about ourselves, but also to avoid criticism.
- can’t ‘receive’ either, which breeds resentment.
- compare ourselves with others and mind-read what they might be thinking.
When clients, I work with around the world, are open (and accepting) of guidance and counsel, of a more mindful way of being – healthier perspectives, values, beliefs, and worldviews become so much more accessible over time.
All we need to do is to re-learn how to slow down (so to achieve more!), and to react less.
Ultimately, we can learn healthy acceptance for what is outside our sphere of influence, a less-judgemental attitude, and a healthier mind and body; emotionally regulated so that rage, addictions, monkey-mind, unnecessary stress, anxiety or depression can become a thing of the past – and that will matter no more because as we’ve discovered, that place, the past, doesn’t exist anymore!