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Friday, 22 August 2014

Drop the drama - using mindful acceptance to replace exaggerated emotional reactions

Mindful acceptance of situations means dropping the exaggerations and drama we generate almost by reflex. This allows us to deal with the reality of the situation which, usually, is easier to handle when we don't exaggerate.

So let's say you're waiting for the bus on a rainy night. The bus sails by without stopping. This is outrageous, you tell yourself, I have been treated with complete contempt. Actually, it's very, very annoying and inconvenient but it isn't outrageous. And you have been treated carelessly and not with "complete contempt." We are also tempted to use words like "outrageous" when we are kept waiting in a queue at a call centre. Once again, what's happening is annoying and frustrating but hardly outrageous.

Mindful acceptance means you pause, silence the drama in your head and connect with the reality of situations. To help you with this, you can bring your awareness back to your breath or  to your body, for instance to your feet.  In other words return to awareness and invite your mind to remain silent for a while.

We tend to exaggerate our emotions almost by reflex and helping us to step out of our exaggerations is one of the ways in which the practice of mindfulness safeguards our emotional wellbeing.

This and other aspects of mindfulness will feature in my 6-week Mindful Living course in Dublin this spring and also in my online Mindfulness without Meditation mindfulness course in February.

It's well worth your while to work with acceptance which is at least as important, as a mindfulness practice, as "being in the now".