A swift reaction
You know that split second when you open your mouth and say something without thinking it through? How can you gain control and implement a powerful pause?
Your swift reaction comes direct from the most primitive part of your brain.
It happens swiftly often disguising anger or fear. It hits you powerfully and almost from nowhere.
It’s one of the emotional reactions that ensured our ancestors survived. Emotions like anger and fear flooded their bodies with hormones like adrenaline which prepared their bodies to react immediately. They could run fast away from a predator and react quickly to a dangerous situation.
So when you shout at your kids or your partner and that anger rises up – remember, this is a primitive, emotional reaction.
You are being led by your primitive brain. And looking into our own lives, it can sometimes feel like we have no control in these moments – angry reactions, addictions, habits.
We tend to think that there are circumstances beyond our control or that someone else ‘makes’ us respond the way we do.
Sleepwalking through our lives
When I was a child we had the Green Cross Code Man who used to promote road safety by telling us to ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. The Green Cross Code Man is back, this time for children and adults!
A recent poll showed 30% of pedestrians often cross roads while using the internet and social media on their phones.
In 2013 the number of deaths among pedestrians aged under 18 years rose by 35%. They are caught up on their mobile phones, making calls, texting or listening to music and don’t stop to notice where they are walking and what’s going on around them.
Just like our preoccupied manner of walking, we need reminding before we sleepwalk into our next reaction.
The Powerful Pause
Next time you are about to react hastily remember this acronym STOP!
Stop! Yes, literally, stop!
Take a breath – follow one or two of your breaths completely, all the way in and all the way out.
Observe the emotions that are swirling around inside you – the anger or the fear. Give yourself a moment to notice what you are feeling. Give it a label – oh yes, this is anger!
Proceed with your choice – you might have calmed down in this powerful moment.
This is your POWERFUL PAUSE.
In this simple way, you can intercept what would be a mindless reaction with a powerful pause. It creates a little gap.
This pause might be a momentary second, where you keep your mouth zipped.
Yet it changes a reaction to a considered response. You are engaging your pre-frontal cortex which engages your awareness. You can choose! Just like the pause button on your screen, this allows you to open up more time. More time to respond.
Daily meditation can help
However, humans are creatures of habit, and our brain has a tendency to react swiftly in any situation.
To train your brain to remember to STOP, is one of the benefits of daily meditation.
Give yourself time to sit and focus on your breath for 10 minutes daily. Allow yourself to experience calm and familiarity with your emotions.
You are then more likely to bring this response up in any challenging situation. It becomes easier (though not always, because we are all humans!) to remember that you have the choice to use your powerful pause.
You have the choice about how you behave. It can become your new default setting. With mindfulness practice it really can help you in situations involving heated emotions or other habits you’d really love to gain some control over.
Do comment below if you are able to use this and transform a situation from potentially fraught to calm and considered!
Reminder – STOP, and that goes for crossing the road too!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness and Meditation Coach at Place of Serenity
Day 26 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge with Sarah Arrow