All of us have some drama in our life, even if it is only internal. In this article you will learn a mindfulness habit that can radically reduce internal and external drama and suffering. You will see results quicker if you practice this powerful habit often. The opposite of drama is peace. So, as your experience of drama decreases you will have proportionately more peace in your life.
Here is the key principal: There are things that happen, and then there is our reaction to them. Although most of the time our reactions are automatic, they really don’t have to be. Everyone has had some experience with non-reactivity. It may even occur by accident. For example, imagine you fell in love with someone a week ago and you are feeling on top of the world. Your mood is such, that things that would normally bother you have little or no effect. Your boss could reprimand you, or someone might cut you off in traffic; events that normally would elicit an internal reaction of feeling tense and exasperated don’t bother you.
Maybe you are familiar with the old technique of counting to ten before responding in a situation that makes you angry. This technique is similar to that but it is a little more sophisticated and much more effective.
Skillfully utilizing this technique begins with the intention to become more mindfully aware of the experiences that might set you off. And, having this awareness the moment these events happen; right as they enter our senses. The point is to catch them right at that moment. Our senses, in this case, are six: Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thinking. We are including thinking in the senses just for this exercise. It doesn’t matter if it is not normally considered one. Everything we experience enters our consciousness through one of these means.
Begin Practicing Paying Attention To The Senses.
This means being more mindful of things as they happen before you attach a story or opinion to them. Next, in the moment the event happens you will catch it with one of your senses and label it as Pleasant, Unpleasant, or Neutral. You can use the acronym P.U.N as a reminder. Again, it’s important that you do this only as the sense(s) perceives it with no story added; it’s just the sensory experience.
Here’s an example: Imagine you are sitting in a park reading something on a peaceful spring day. Suddenly you hear a whooshing sound as the sprinklers come on and begin to soak you and your book! Okay, so in your normal mode you might be fuming, thinking; great, now I’m soaked, my book is ruined, and my hair… Now you are in a bad mood that can color the rest of your day. It is not uncommon to turn little inconveniences like this into catastrophes, at least mentally.
Let’s stop here and rewind the mental movie and slow it down to catch what happened at the senses. As the sprinkler turned on, your hearing picked up a whooshing sound, next you felt water on your skin. That’s it! So far there’s no mental story; no drama or suffering.
Next, check in with your breathing and drop your attention into your body. Just watch the breath for a few seconds, and feel into your body. This does several things: It diverts your attention away from creating a story (drama). It also calms down the nervous system and provides oxygen to your entire body and brain – This feels good. And, this reinforces the wholesome habit of having your attention focused on the body in the present moment, rather than getting carried away in the head which likes to time-travel to the future or the past.
So, now after a minute or so, you are now calm, centered, and feeling okay. You are in a much better place to respond skillfully; perhaps you walk out of the sprinklers for instance with a smile.
Learning to apply this technique to the sense of thinking is a little trickier, but can be done and it works the same way. You are merely treating thoughts as objects in awareness. Practice is key.
You can easily remember this technique with the steps; A – B – C – D.
- Awareness of the intention to practice this.
- Be mindful at the senses – PUN is Pleasant, Unpleasant, or Neutral.
- Check in with your breathing.
- Drop into your body.
Have fun with this and try it a few times today. You will be pleasantly surprised at how you can gain much more choice in how you respond to life. You will also have less drama and more peace.
I hope that you enjoyed and benefited from this article.
Brad Maybury teaches mindfulness practices, helping clients connect more deeply with their body and gain greater calm, vitality, and wellness! Those with symptoms of anxiety, stress and trauma go from surviving to thriving.
You can get more mindfulness tips and resources in his newsletter, plus a free copy of his book by visiting his site: http://www.traumarecoveryresources.com/newsletter