Suzanne Norman

Enlightened Living Articles

“An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes”

Friday, January 04, 2013

“An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes” -Cato

“Oh, I shouldn’t have said that”
How many times do you hear yourself saying that? How many times do you react to a situation only to regret it almost immediately and then expend a great deal of emotional energy trying to make it “right”?

Perhaps there are times when someone lashes out at you and says something hurtful or sharp and you obsess about it all day long, your day totally affected by someone elses actions.

Someone pushes your buttons and you react negatively, either with words that may sting (which always leave a lasting impression) or with lingering toxic thoughts that poison your system. There are just a few situations and/or people who still seem to have the ability to push my buttons (and I know that this is the universes way of helping me learn and grow), but after such moments, in reflection, I realize that I lost control – and I once again remind myself that between stimulus and response is a space…. in this space lies my freedom to choose my response. Far too often we react before recognizing that space, that freedom to choose.

We can decide within ourselves how circumstances and situations will affect us. Between what happens to us (the stimulus) and our response to it, is our freedom to choose suffering or ease, in that moment, and moving forward.

People are conditioned by their life experiences and if we remind ourselves of that, that they are just a product of their conditioning, we may find that we view them through different lenses. A more compassionate view of the person may take the sting out, may make it all less personal.

It’s not what other say or do to us that hurt us the most, it is our response to those things. I read a wonderful analogy to this once..“chasing after the poisonous snake that bites us will only drive the poison more deeply through our system. It is far better to take measures immediately to get the poison out”.

If we want to change a situation, we first have to change ourselves. To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change how we view the world around us, our perspective. This is not always easy as we are conditioned by our experiences, by our family and by our culture. We simply assume that the way we see the world around us is the way it really is, and our attitude and behaviors are based on these assumptions.

We must look at the lens through which we see the world and understand that it’s the lens itself that shapes how we interpret the world and our experiences. Once we understand this, our compassion builds, our patience expands and our hearts open, even to those who hurt us.

The next time you feel yourself reacting to the words or actions of another, stop yourself, take a deep breath and allow for that space….then you can choose how or if to respond. Recognize that how you respond will effect you and the other, permanently. You have the power to change your world for the better as long as you always recognize your freedom to choose how you see the world and how you respond to it.

The practice of mindfulness, which we learn and cultivate through yoga and meditation practice, changes the structures of the mind, softens the hard edges and clears our lenses. Before long, our habitual response to every experience in our life comes from that space. We choose the compassionate expression of peace, empowerment and love. So, keep stepping to your mat, keep breathing, and keep working…your body, your mind, and the world, will be better as a result.

A healthy outside starts on the inside” -Robert Urich

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