You can’t calm the storm, Stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass. ~ Timber Hawkeye.
Emotions, Violence and Mindfulness
Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death.
Based on my experience and reading, it seems clear that everyone has a breaking point when they feel forced to act in ways not typical of them. Perhaps some people turn to violence as a way to be taken seriously for once. Some commit suicide when they feel their life challenges are more than they can bear.
The result can also be a lashing out toward other individuals or society in general if you see others as responsible for your predicament. If you could understand the workings of others’ minds, much of the violence in the world might not seem quite so senseless. Violence often makes sense to people feeling overwhelmed by life burdens. Most people tend to react emotionally to such situations without giving their response much thought.
If you could step back from your emotions, you might see more constructive possibilities and be able to choose one of them. Once you are overwhelmed, it might be too late to step back. You could make a practice of learning to take a break from your daily routine even when you are not under pressure. Then you will have a better idea how to handle stressful life events when they arise.
But what can you do about that pressured feeling? Perhaps the best place to start is to realize that technology has resulted in amazing inventions allowing you to contact others around the world in a matter of seconds. Yet the overload of immediate communication has resulted in separating people rather than bringing them closer together. Here is what General Omar Bradley had to say, “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”
In the process of becoming immediately connected, we seem to have forgotten the purpose of communication. It is to help us understand each other and learn to work together to find harmonious ways for us to exist together. Instead, we use our channels of communication to persuade others to think as we do. We use them for entertainment, validating ourselves and for advertising.
Although our technology to some extent helps us understand each other, we need to do much more to appreciate each other in our search for meaningful lives. People who tend toward violence may have goals not much different from our own. Yet they might have had their dreams crushed along the way. They no longer see any path toward a fulfilling life and look for a way to express their frustration.
Violence is seen as aggressive behavior with the intent to cause physical or psychological harm. Hostile aggression also fits our definition of violence for the purposes of this book. It is performed in anger for the purpose of harming another person. By constant exposure to it, we have come to be more accustomed to violence in our society, regardless of the presence or absence of a relationship between perpetrator and victim.
Mindfulness is a way you can come to understand yourself and your inner workings. It involves reflecting on your thoughts and emotions rather than acting on them impulsively. It is a form of meditation and involves making your body and mind still.
You do this by being in a place of serenity free of distractions. You pay attention to your inner state as well as the sounds, sights and smells around you while making no judgments about anything in your awareness. This is a practice where you can exist in just this moment without any concern for the past or future. You can practice mindfulness in order to take your mind and your body down a more constructive path than it might have otherwise taken. Rather than letting your emotions direct your whole day, you could step back from them and put them in context. We will look at this in greater detail later.
Do you usually react with immediate anger when something upsets your routine and then let it consume you for the rest of the day? Do you look for someone to blame for everything that happens to you, when you might be at least partially responsible? Do you let your mood take over your decisions and actions rather than trying to look at situations more rationally? Are you always on alert to find someone at fault? These are a few things to explore in a calmer mood once you find one, but it takes practice to set this mood.
Excerpt from my new book From Violence to Peace.
Seriously, what are you thinking about right now? Because whatever you are thinking is becoming your reality, present and future. If you are thinking about the argument you had with your spouse last night, then more of that is what you are bringing upon yourself.
Mindfulness can provide benefits for our daily lives, writes life coach Jan Aitken.
Mindfulness. What comes to mind when you read that word?
It’s a concept that has become very popular over the past few years, and practising mindfulness is showing many benefits for our daily lives. It’s a simple technique to learn, you don’t need any expensive equipment. In this column we’ll look at what we mean by ”mindfulness” and take a look at what being mindful can do for us. In the next column we’ll take a look at how we can be more mindful and how to practise it on a daily basis.
Likely you’ve heard the term mindfulness being bandied about as if it’s the latest “fad”.
Thousands of studies from around the globe have shown mindfulness to be beneficial for everything from Anxiety to Alzheimer’s; for helping schoolchildren improve their concentration; prisoners with reducing aggression; partners with enhancing communication and empathy; workplaces for reducing burnout; leaders for developing greater responsiveness and creativity. A truly impressive list for something as simple as paying attention in the present moment!
Knockbacks, knockdowns and knockouts are an unavoidable part of full living. The number of times I’ve wished they weren’t – so desperately at times that it’s hard to believe it’s not enough to make those bad things disappear. When bad things happen, it’s up to us – and only us – to decide what happens next. It’s cliché (oh I know how cliché this is, but stay with me) – but by changing the way we experience the bad, we can emerge from the chaos and thrive, strengthened by an experience that could have just as easily floored us.
WALKING is one of the best ways of keeping fit, though you might think of it as boring. Though that’s like thinking breathing is a boring way of getting air into your lungs.
It’s not surprising if you think walking is pedestrian. After all, you do it every day without giving it a first, never mind a second, thought. Even dedicated couch potatoes don’t think about the trek from bed to kitchen to couch. Attitudes to walking are really just familiarity breeding contempt. You’d be wise not to be too contemptuous.
Quitting smoking is a long process and some may not even be willing to undergo that irritating withdrawal syndrome. Nonetheless, a new study proves that behavioral training such as Mindfulness Meditation may help you quit easier without you even noticing it.
When you wake up, what comes to mind first – problems or peace?
Do you feast on the present or pick through leftovers from the past? Do you open your senses to what’s around you or open the Pandora’s box of anxiety about what may never come to pass?
Many of us start our days as we continue them – wrestling with worries, fears, hurts and difficulties. It’s easy to lose our sense of wonder and to forget our power to change our lives by changing how we perceive the world.
Mindfulness is one way to change our focus by re-booting our awareness.
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men.
True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.
In case you haven’t heard somehow, selfies are pictures you take of yourself and post on email or social media. With a selfie, you can document whatever you are doing and who you are doing it with. You can think about it later. Your friends can also see what you are doing.
If you ask someone who just took a selfie why they did it, do you think you would get a coherent answer? Most people just don’t know why or might not have thought about it. Aha! Maybe people are too busy to stop and think. I have heard one theory that people take selfies to prove they exist. Maybe it’s also a way to prove you are important. You could be trying to convince yourself of your own importance.
There was a time when people spent most of their leisure time relaxing with families and friends often without much going on. It was just fun to be with them. While it’s fun to accomplish things, you don’t have to do it all the time. Sometimes it’s just as nice to just be. Life often becomes a blur these days as you rush from one activity to another A selfie gives you a chance to bring your life into sharp focus if only for a second. But then you scurry on to the next event. Maybe you will stop there for another selfie to add to your posts.
In the past, television portrayed people in dramas or comedies we all understood to be fictional. They were stories to entertain us or teach us something. In the past few years, “reality” shows have taken over. Although it’s hard to know how much is real and how much is fantasy, the characters are real people playing themselves. I wonder if selfies could be our instant attempts to portray ourselves doing something to make us somehow seem more real. There is an old saying that art imitates life. I think we have reached the point where life imitates art or what passes for art.
I also wonder whether our fast pace of life and loss of touch with who we are accounts for the constant stress which dogs all of us these days. We seldom seem to reflect on what we are doing. We are too busy checking off all the things we have planned each day.
Have you heard of mindfulness? It means being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it and not judging yourself or anyone else. That’s just the opposite of how most people live their lives these days. Are you ready to try life in a lower gear?
Life Lab Lessons
- Leave your camera and cell phone home.
- Take friends with you if you can.
- Spend time somewhere peaceful by yourself or with friends.
- Make no judgments about yourself.
- Make no judgments about anyone else.