Strange title and you’re right. It is strange but it’s so true. When an obstacle occurs, what do most of us do? React! I can guarantee that our reaction to the situation doesn’t make it better. It probably creates more stress, anxiety, bitterness etc. So why react when we know our autopilot response actually backfires? Sadly it’s how we have been programmed through our upbringing and the influence of society. In order to have a different outcome; an outcome that will make the situation better we need a different way of responding. So what’s that? Stop& Breathe! Exactly what the title says. Chade Meng Tan, the author of Search Within Yourself and the trainer of the program Search Within Yourself at Google emphasizes how stopping is the most important step. Consciously switching off from the thought that is stressing you. Then focus on your breath. Breathing and seeing the breath go through the nostrils or feeling the movement in the tummy changes our focus. For starters, breathing gives us something to do. Distracting our mind to focus on something else other than the situation that is stressing us. When we have been distracted our stress level and the urgency to sort things out now or feel any negative emotions would dissipate. When we are at a calmer state we are more likely to notice what is going on objectively. When we are clouded with judgements, we are not able to see things for what they are. When we are able to step back and notice we can then reflect on the whole scenario like a movie without being entangled emotionally. We can then see that whatever is happening to us is because the persons involved believe that whatever they are doing will bring them happiness. At the end of it all, we all want to be happy.
Something I try to remind myself when I’m going through a turmoil. If what I’ve been doing all these years hasn’t helped then how would it help now? Clearly (re)acting as usual doesn’t resolve anything. However switching to focus on our breath may seem silly but it works! Calmness is not derived from something outside of us but within. Finding answers to hardships too will come from within. “The within” sounds very monk-like but what it really means is to focus on our breath and that will regulate our heartbeat. As I calm down and sit in that calmness the solution becomes clearer to me.
We are too impatient when something goes wrong hence we seek help from others. Thinking that someone else would have the expertise or insight to our problems. Remember there is only one you and only you are living what you are facing. The advice we get from others is based on their belief system, society, culture, upbringing and perception. All of which may change as they evolve. And we all are constantly evolving. The advice we get or give can change too. An advice usually sounds good in the beginning but after awhile the feeling good fades away. So what happens then? Off to another person for advice? So maybe try this instead. Breathe. It might just calm you down and before you know it your problems are less serious than they were. Not because the problems go away but as you calm down you also distance yourself from being emotionally caught up and that makes all the difference. Being less emotional or attached to the problem gives way to see things objectively. So next time a hurdle comes your way, as tempted as you are to call your friend to vent or seek his or her opinion, stop and breathe. It’s that simple!
“See for yourself whether letting go when a part of you really wants to hold on doesn’t bring a deeper satisfaction than clinging.” — John Kabat-Zinn