Events occur in our life continuously moment-to-moment. Some of these events cause no reaction within us. There is no charge to them and we are indifferent. Other events occur and we have an instant reaction. Our blood pressure increases, we may physically tighten up, our breathing may become more rapid and short. It is in moments like this that we can go on autopilot with our conditioned thoughts reacting unconsciously to the moment. The events have disturbed our state of being. Whether or not we react to disturbances in our state of being will determine the amount of upheaval we create for ourselves in each moment. In this week’s blog I thought I would share my thoughts on reactivity.
In our happy, blissful state of being our consciousness is like a pond of water in which the surface is calm and undisturbed. We are in an equilibrated state of being. There are no disturbances in our consciousness. When events surface that cause a reaction in us it’s as if a pebble has been dropped into the pool of water. Ripples are created in our state of being. We are no longer in a state of equilibrium. Our consciousness has been disturbed and ripples are filtering through our being.
Our reaction to the thoughts brought about by events determines the size of upheaval in our being. The larger the pebble dropped into the water of our consciousness the larger is the waves. When an event occurs and we add to its intensity with our thoughts about it we are intensify the ripples. Reacting amplifies the waves and we find ourselves in the midst of a storm. If events occur and we are able to simply notice them without reacting, the ripples in our consciousness remain small. The impact to our state of being is minimal and we are able to remain more equilibrated. In doing so, we also remain open to possibilities. We are essentially absorbing events into our being and allowing them to ripple through our consciousness. We are changed by the event but not identified by it.
Typically, we are reacting constantly to the events in our life, especially when we are in a state of unconsciousness. A lack of awareness of ourselves in any moment means we can only be in a state of constant reactivity. When we are in a more conscious state we are first aware of the events and their ripple event upon our consciousness before we become reactive. Reactivity is exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. There are times when we can become overwhelmed as a result of being in a reactive state. Conscious awareness provides a moment of reflection, a moment of witnessing to the events of life and to see what surfaces within our being. It allows us to be at choice in each and every moment. This doesn’t mean that our conditioning doesn’t come into play but we at least have the chance to learn and grow from each moment, rather than reacting unconsciously.
Some may like the highs and lows of reactivity. The idea of remaining a calm pool of water may seem less exciting. After all who wouldn’t want to experience the highs of life? However, they are often followed with the lows. We need the contrast between the highs and lows of life. One cannot exist with the other. However, one can experience the highs of life without the attachment to these events. It is attachment that causes suffering. We want to hold onto highs in relationships, personal successes and life moments. It’s the lows we don’t want to hold onto such as loneliness, depression, sadness and fear. It is difficult for us to be detached from the lows and attached to the highs. Only in a state of true detachment from any state will one be able to experience life with less attachment to the up and downs. Seasoned meditators still experience the ups and downs, there is simply less reaction to events. One remains more watchful than reactive.
Meditation increases our ability to be self-aware. There is less reaction and more observation. An analogy that is often used to describe this is two sides of a coin. One side is hope and the other is fear. Hope fills us with positive excitement. Fear fills us with negative thinking. Yet, there is a third element to the coin. The stuff that holds it together allow there to be two sides. This stuff is the consciousness that observes both hope and fear. In a state of awareness we see both sides simultaneous and yet we are neither attached nor detached to either. We remain the non-judgemental witness to that which is. This is the meditator’s journey to be aware of all that is and to remain detached.
When events or thoughts are causing you to react, use the analogy of your consciousness as a pool of water to separate yourself from the events and your reaction. The more you react to things (ripples in the water) the greater will be the amount of upheaval in your life. When something has disturbed your consciousness are you aware of the disturbance and can you remain detached? Are you able to allow the ripples caused by events or your thoughts to dissipate or will you add to the intensity of the waves upon your consciousness? Be gentle with yourself. Notice when you are able to be the observer and practice acting from conscious awareness. We are all practising moment-to-moment. There is no right or wrong, only what is.
May you be filled with conscious awareness
May you notice the ripples upon your consciousness
May you allow the ripples of life to slowly subside
May you experience the truth of each moment.