Whether you're aware of it or not we all have our hots spots or sensitive issues that go off when we're triggered by some action, word, sight or sound that sets off any feeling of pain or discomfort. I say that our default button is set on react and defend rather than relate and respond when we get triggered. It's not you're fault, my fault or anyone's. It's a survival mechanism that's helped us survive since we've been on this planet. So the problem isn't this survival mechanism. The problem starts when we are reacting to things that aren't dangerous and life threatening as if they were. When this happens I say that our default button is hyper sensitive and becomes trigger happy. When we react to situations, thoughts, external events as if they are a threat we suffer. We suffer because the moment we're triggered and go into reactive mode we either push others away, withdraw and isolate ourselves or attack with words of physical violence. So the thing that we are usually seeking, which is safety becomes elusive because of our actions. (unless you are really in danger such as being stalked by a lion, or someone is trying to mug you in which case you need to react!) It's not just safety we're seeking it is also connection. We want to feel heard, seen, understood and loved. Both safety and connection are essential to our well-being. Without them our emotional and physical well being suffers. So how do we help ourselves?
Notice what happens to your body, mind and heart when you are triggered...One way is to begin to notice what happens to your body, mind and heart when you get triggered. What triggered you isn't as important as your reaction to the trigger. So you can get caught up in the content or story or you can begin to notice how you are reacting to the situation. For example, say that I am on my way to meeting and am running late. As I get on the expressway I notice that traffic is very slow and I end up stuck in a traffic jam for the next 30 minutes. I can either spend those 30 minutes cursing the traffic and drivers around me, beating myself up for not leaving earlier, feeling angry at my boss for scheduling a meeting at this time or I can begin to notice how I'm reacting to the situation. I might notice that my muscles are tense and I feel anxiety in my belly. Instead of feeding the anxiety with worry thoughts, I might begin to breathe and allow the anxiety to be there. Along with being present with these feelings I can bring a feeling of compassion to the anxiety in acknowledgment that this is a moment of suffering. Being compassionate is what helps alleviate the suffering and it can also help to calm the body, mind and heart. Just like this small example there are many different examples that you can use from your own life to help yourself during times of stress and suffering. These moments are pivotal in learning how to shift from living mindlessly and reacting to life to living mindfully and responding to pain with a compassionate and wakeful presence. One keeps you stuck in a place of pain and the other helps you respond to pain and move through it in a compassionate way.
Learn to cultivate a peaceful and loving heart...See the world with an open and awakened heart instead of a judgmental, stressed out and reactive body, mind and heart.
- Take breaks throughout your day to be present in your body and pause the torrents of thoughts, stories and reactions.
- You might practice with one word such as Peace...breathe in peace...breathe out peace
This is a gift of living, breathing and being present and connected with this precious life around and within. Practice compassion and loving kindness to live mindfully and awaken the heart.
May you be peaceful