Do you always pause to reflect before taking action? Even when you feel as if you’re up against a wall with a gun to your head?
John LeCarre opens his novel ‘Single and Single’ giving a detailed blow-by-blow account of a victim’s thoughts in the moments leading up to his murder. It opens with ‘This gun is not a gun’ and goes on to show the victim using all his powers of positive thinking to refute the existence of the gun being pointed at him. LeCarre then gives Winsor the full chapter to ruminate about his life and the events leading up to his murder. If only life gave us such grace.
Granted Winsor dies (sorry about the spoiler), but he gets a full chapter to reflect before he does! Life’s reality is that when we are under extreme pressure, especially when we feel threatened in some way, our survival instinct kicks in and suddenly having time to pause and think things through is no longer part of the deal. We don’t need a real gun pointed at us to put fight or flight into first gear, and find ourselves taking actions and saying words that afterwards we may regret.
This impulsive drive to preserve ego-identity, appearing as survival instinct, can rise up at work, in love relations, in financial negotiations, or when we feel a threat to the security of our home. In any of these situations, especially occurring in the context of accumulated stress, people who are known to be loving, peaceful and agreeable, can become irrational, doing and saying all kinds of crazy things.
Is there a way for us to deal with our survival instinct when it unnecessarily or inappropriately starts revving into overdrive? How many people lose jobs, deals, relationships, and other valuable intangibles as a result of blowing their tops under undue stress? Can you stop yourself from doing or saying something that could wreck it all? We can’t sit on our hands or walk around with tape over our mouths whenever we start to feel stressed.
Meditation experts advocate the power of daily meditation in which we become so acquainted with our minds in a peaceful state, that when we feel an emotional volcano rising we are able to avert the explosion. The key is to take time to still your mind on a daily basis. Most meditation teachers recommend 20 minutes twice daily, but let’s face it, if you’re a beginner starting small and building up is more likely to lead to the development of a successful habit than an all out: I am so stressed right now, I have more work to do than three people could realistically handle in a day, and plus there’s my meditation, if I set the alarm 20 minutes earlier, I can get it in before work, that is of course if the alarm doesn’t wake the baby.
So go on, take five, right now. No body’s watching. Sit back and close your eyes and let the computer go to sleep. Focus on your breath, allow the thoughts in your mind to drift in and out – no need to focus on any of them – just allow them to drift in and out as you breathe in and out, and simply be in the moment. Then the next time stress skulks into your life and starts feeding on your weaknesses, you’ll be one step closer to stopping it before it completely devours your joy!
Tip: If you need an image to get started, try the one at the top of this post!
- F is for Fear (alisonamazed.wordpress.com)
- Meditation to Evoke Empathy (mojedapoet.wordpress.com)
- Meditation – Stress Reduction (anthomas760.wordpress.com)
- Brain Waves and Meditation II (addictionts.com)
- “I paused in his aura of peace and bliss and was consumed with his tranquil countenance and wisdom he radiated…” (eagle7soar3.wordpress.com)