Monday, 19 March 2007

Reaction and results

Last week I wrote about living in our self created world; where we place such importance on our own thoughts and ideas, where we feel emotions in response to other people’s actions.

In reality even in our “own world” very few things are important.

Do you believe me? Take a few minutes and make a list of all the truly important events in your life.

At the onset you might think it will take longer than a few minutes - but you will find the list will not be as long as you first thought. If you just examine this month - what have been the three most important events? How important do you consider them to be now compared to the time they occurred?

On Saturday, for two hours my attention was fully focused on one event. I recall during that time I experienced: anger, joy, frustration, exhilaration, anxiety, pride, indignation - you name it; I went through the full spectrum of feelings. The event? I was watching the Wales vs. England rugby international. That event has now past into history, probably by the end of the week I will have forgotten the score.

I have been told that we will not have heating for most of this week, resulting from the need to shutdown the system to repair a leak. If the weather forecasters are correct, by tomorrow night I’m going to feel mighty cold and probably very miserable. If the work drags on I’ll probably feel anger. But next month it will all be forgotten.

We respond to events, because that’s human nature. But most reactions to events are transient and very few will result in permanent effects. But there are events that have a long term residual influence. Someone - in your opinion - offends you, they do you an injustice. And the memory of that event gnaws and burrows into your soul. There it can fester and grow. It soon can dominate your life. But analyse what has happened. There is the event > the reaction to the event > reaction to the reaction. It’s like a family feud; the Jones’ hate the Williams’ yet the original cause will probably have been forgotten. It’s the same with our personal reactions: we nurture, we excuse our own behaviour and find plenty of reasons to damn the antagonist. We carry the reaction around with us. I’m reminded of the story of the two Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch females; even to take something directly handed by a woman is prohibited.

Two monks were walking from one monastery to another when they came to a river. An old woman was standing on the bank. One of the monks asked what was troubling her. She said she had to cross the river but was frightened she would be swept away. The monk told her to take his hand and he would guide her across. The other monk object, reminding him of the rule forbidding him to touch a woman. But the monk ignored the warning. The three crossed the river, when they got to the other bank the monks and old woman parted company. The two monks walked on in strained silence. Finally the monk who guided the woman across turned to his companion and asked what was troubling him. He chastised the monk for breaking the rules of conduct. The other monk smiled and said “I let go of the old woman’s hand when we reach the safety of the bank, why are you still clinging on to her?”.

But isn’t it human nature to react to events? Yes - but there is no need to continue to cling.

The secret is training oneself to realise the instant you react to an event. At that point rather than clinging or trying to subjugate / obliterate the memory, examine it. Look at how the reaction feels physically - is there tightening of the chest or stomach? What thoughts are being generated? Most occasions, you will soon realise it actually takes an effort to retain the reaction - step back and you can witness it fading and disappear.

Having said that, I recognise there some events which are so traumatic the individuals psyche is changed forever - but thank goodness those occur infrequently.

1 comment:

Helena said...

Can I copy this onto a website I run? It's set up to help people with depression.