What is mindfulness ultimately all about? Is it to enhance attention, relieve stress, act ethically or achieve enlightenment? From a greater perspective it may reflect our basic human desire for harmony and homeostasis. What often happens in any moment is that we are triggered and enter a state of dysregulation. Every moment is viewed from a basic biologic drive for survival and we react subconsciously with a fight, flight or freeze response. We create our reality moment to moment.
Experience is seen through the lens of our personal unique conditioned belief system in order to compensate for the perception that we are flawed and incomplete. How can we react to make us feel safe, loved or worthy? We are forced to then deal with our anger, fear, sadness, shame, guilt etc.
Mindfulness is a counterbalancing force to help self-regulate our out of control system. Through awareness, insight into the true nature of self and reality and self-compassion mindfulness can help to bring us back to our baseline level.
There is this wonderful interplay between what one subconsciously creates and how one responds to it. Mindfulness is about an inner balance. Harmony between the activated conditioned nature of mind and the rebalancing, re-centering and grounding of mindfulness that brings mind back from its agitated state. Unfortunately, our resting state may not be one of balance. Many of us exist in a chronically dysregulated state of agitation, stress and anxiety. It is possible that as we cultivate mindfulness, not only are we able to return to our resting state but allow for it to be reset to a more grounded stable level.
Step In: One first needs to be aware of what is present. Once one knows what one knows there is an active engaged embodiment. This helps one to detach from our thinking mind. There is a stepping into what is happening to fully experience it through one’s body. It is important to sustain this awareness until one surrenders into silence and stillness. Embodiment is more than feeling a physical sensation. We are holding our inner child wounding trapped in our bodies with acceptance and compassion that slowly allows for its release and integration.
Step Back: It is the belief in the solidity of the sense of self that leads to our suffering. Through discernment one can investigate and see how our self is continually conditionally constructed based on trying to meet our unmet psychological needs. The illusory nature of self is recognized. This allows for one to step back and non-attach to the sense of self.
Step Up: As one does not identify with the sense of self and ultimately does not create a sense of self, there is a stepping up. There is a transcendence of one’s conditional self into Presence. Unconditioned innate compassion and wisdom.
An old Chinese farmer saved up small amounts of money over a year to buy a new horse. Just a day after the farmer bought the horse, it ran away. His neighbour expressed grief, but the farmer himself was calm. “I hope you can get over this bad news” said the neighbor. “Good news or bad news, can’t say” replied the farmer. The next day, the horse returned to the farmer’s house by itself, and brought another stray horse with it. “Cheer up, we’re going to multiply our farm income. That’s great news” said the farmer’s son. “Good news or bad news, can’t say” replied the farmer and carried on with his work. A week later, the farmer took the first horse to his farm and his son took the second horse to follow his father to work. On the way, the second horse pushed the boy down and ran away. The boy’s leg was fractured badly. That evening back home, the farmer’s wife groaned “We will have to spend all our extra savings on our son’s broken leg. What a terrible news”. Once again, the farmer replied: “Good news or bad news, can’t say.” A month later, the farmer’s King announced a war on the neighboring nation. Citing a lack of foot soldiers, the King ordered all able-bodied men in the nation to get drafted into the military without excuses. The farmer’s son was spared because of his broken leg. Later, the inexperienced soldiers got slaughtered in the war. “You are lucky that your son did not get drafted. Mine returned with severe injuries. Many have been handicapped or killed” complained the farmer’s best friend. Unabashed, the farmer responded: “Good news or bad news, can’t say”.
This Chinese proverb points out the nature of reality that good luck can change to bad luck and bad luck can change to good luck. Everything has the potential for change and is impermanent. Follow the mantra of “Maybe” when anything good or bad happens. This reminds one of the possibility that anything can happen in the next moment.
A group of my friends get together to watch a movie. One of the people says: “I know a great movie. Everyone will enjoy it. I will start it now!” I say to myself: “Wait a second. The group hasn’t even talked about it and you want to start the movie. How inconsiderate and selfish can you be.” In this situation from a present moment adult level there is an evaluation that this person’s action was inconsiderate and selfish. There is “Outrage” at the other person for what they have done. However, when you get angry with someone else, is it all about the other person? When I was growing up the personal narrative I learned was that one needed to be quiet, invisible, not challenge authority (parents) and not create a problem. In order to protect myself I created the simple strategy of just being perfect! When this other person acted in a way that was totally contrary to my personal belief system it triggered a reaction within me. I transposed myself onto what the other person did and personalized his action. I was expressing “Inrage” at myself for an action that I assumed responsibility for and was not in keeping with what I needed to do to feel safe, loved and worthy. And why was the other person doing what he was doing? Everyone one of us has a unique story that determines our behaviour.
When you get upset with someone you need to remember that when you come to a crossroad of friction you need to:
Look Both Ways
“What is calling to be heard” both in the other person and yourself that is responsible for the action. Just don’t place all the responsibility for what is going on with the other person. Remember to look inside yourself to see what is being triggered.