You are going along with your day minding your business in fact having a pretty nice day and then it comes, like a thunderbolt. The email/message comment that shakes your little world. Someone who is either angry or not as enlightened as you has decided to fire off a terse missile right to your landing pad. You read it first and then you feel it. Maybe anger comes first ( hot flush of the cheeks, raised heart beat) or shame, or hurt or shock. After this initial body shake up you then move into attack mode. First the questions…… how could they? I don’t understand? What is their problem? What did I do? Then the missiles back…. idiots, selfish, unthoughtful, mean people. Then the reply starts forming in your head. I’ll show them, they can’t mess with me, I’ll tell them how I feel. This all spirals into your own drama and you are suddenly the main actor.
I have had many many of these interactions, some come as a surprise, some I know are coming. Instinctually I will go straight to emotional mind. This is my primate coming out. The feelings whether they are anger, fear , sadness or disgust rush in to fill the gap and then I think about retribution. In the emotional mind the emotions are the driving force and we feel swept away by them and unable to control or stem them.
The other mind which I am learning to work with is the rational mind. The rational mind looks at the problem in a logical way and thinks things through a bit. It looks for the right or wrong, almost like it is solving a maths problem. It is not influenced by emotions; which I can attest to having done many maths problems without a hint of feeling.
The third mind is the wide mind. It is guided by wisdom not impulse. It feels and identifies the problem.
How to get to wide mind:
1) Receive the email
2) Feel the reaction in your body. Where is it? It could be heat as in anger or cold as in abandonment or redness as in shame. It could be a knot in the belly, or an elevated heart beat.
3) Calm the physiological reaction to it. When you increase the length of your exhales you will ask your body to become more soothing and more controlled. It will know what to do, you just take those long breaths.
4) Now, step away from the computer or phone, turn it off. Walk away. Ask yourself not to react, not just now.
When we step back from our reactive states we have a better chance of turning on our rational intellect and coming closer to a wider view of the situation. Once our body is calm our mind will be as well.
Practice for today: Practice non-reactivity. We live in an age where messages are fired at us all day long. One of them is bound to trigger an emotional reaction. This is the practice of mindfulness, this is how we learn to give ourselves space so we can nurture a better response. Take it from me, not one of those emails I have fired back has ever made me feel good about myself. If you do eventually decide to leave it rest assured the universe will deal with it when it is ready.