How Mindfulness Helps Us React Less and Accept More
One thing I’m really appreciating about practicing mindfulness is the ability to reduce my reactivity. By reactivity, I mean two things: expanding the time between something happening and one’s reaction to it, and gradually not having a reaction at all.
Why are these things important?
When we increase the time between a triggering event and our reaction to it, we have a moment to decide how we’ll respond.
Here’s an example: you’re standing on a crowded train and someone accidentally steps on your toe. If you are in full reactive mode, you might say, “Ouch!” loudly and scowl at the person. But if you are less reactive, you might instead think about how your foot hurts and that the person did not step on your foot on purpose. You could even respond by doing something soothing for yourself, like taking a few deep breaths. Eventually, an incident like this will not even ruffle you.
Taking 10 minutes or more a day to sit down and focus on your breathing helps you become more aware of what’s happening in your body and what thoughts are swirling around in your mind. It helps you observe yourself and understand your reactions, triggers, and automatic responses so that you can decide to change them if they are unhelpful. It also reduces anxiety and increases calm and ease by creating more space in your mind.
As Michael J. Formica says in this Psychology Today article, “...the key aim of mindfulness practice [is] to move from reacting to responding — and we respond through awareness. By paying attention to a thing and seeing it for what it is, rather than becoming drawn into its inertia, we are able to respond, rather than simply react.”
If you would like help establishing a mindfulness routine, please contact me. I’d be happy to help!