mindful when it matters

Today in my work mindfulness group, we discussed situations where we wish we were more mindful.

Colorful examples included:

  • When responding to an email that made you feel devalued
  • When dealing with disappointment in personal relationships
  • When you’ve moving into a new apartment
  • When you’re waiting on someone for something important
  • When looking at your 401k

The conclusion was that it’s easier to practice being mindful when things are going well – or even just average. But in the critical moments? We overreact, jump to conclusions, snap, lash out, and a host of other behaviors that we know better than to do.

So our practice became:

What is the moment calling for?

We tried open awareness meditation (a recorded version is available on the Practice page). Allowing thoughts to enter, pass through, and fade. Like clouds in the sky.

And for the thorny thoughts that stuck around, we tried to detangle the observation from the emotion. For example:

  • Observation: My 401k dropped dramatically overnight.
  • Emotional reaction: I feel anxious about what it means for my family. Nervous that I’m not doing the right thing.

After the exercise, one participant commented,

It’s really hard to sit with the uncomfortable emotions. Once I recognized how anxious I was, I immediately wanted to push it away.

And that’s when I knew we were doing it right. It’s great if you can meditate when things are rosy. But life isn’t always rosy. Real growth comes when you stop running away from your own emotional junk. When you can be mindful when it matters.

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