Mindfulness is key to mental health.

 

Lesson from the Vault                                                 

“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.”

If there’s one major lesson I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t always control what happens to me. However, if I can cultivate the awareness that I can choose how I want to respond, then I can create personal freedom.

It came as a complete revelation to me when I realized that it is not necessary to be held hostage by uncomfortable feelings. Instead, I can choose to step aside from them, and relate with compassion from a place of curiosity and warmth. But before that I need to be aware that the feeling is there. In other words, I cannot create meaningful change if I do not know what it is that needs to be changed.

Practice connecting with your own inner wisdom, because there is real freedom in this. Let inner wisdom be your beacon to letting things be what they really are, not what you may want or need them to be. We all have the power to be aware and to break free from the habitual ways of living that bind us to fear and self defeating knee-jerk reactions. I wholeheartedly believe this.

How do your emotions run your life? Does fear hold you back from engaging in things that could make you happy? Are there moments in your life where you shut down from communication because you feel overwhelmed or angry? Does shame keep you stuck in the same addictive cycles?

1.     Recognize the feeling – You might even want to be on the lookout for it, calling it out when it’s there. Catch yourself in your negative self-talk. This immediately disengages you from the narrative network in your brain and gives the choice to step into the next step. Get curious about the feeling Give yourself the chance to do something different. Imagine that this feeling wasn’t good or bad, but just an arising sensation in your body. What is the texture of the feeling, the shape, and the size, does it have a color? In doing this, you’re training your mind that it doesn’t have to be so reactive to this feeling.

2.     Wrap it in compassion and give it a loving hug – Imagine surrounding this feeling in a pool of warmth, a loving presence. Imagine this feeling is a wounded child and then see how you would relate.

3.     You have a choice in how you relate to your feelings, choose this different response, and start to recognize that even though you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you respond to it and this is how the path to freedom is paved.

 

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