It is our human nature to avoid pain and to seek pleasure, but we know the inevitable truth that storms of uncertainty will arise
upon this human experience. This thought may invoke an internal sense of dread, often rooted in unpleasant past experiences not yet fully processed. Negative thoughts typically trigger a stress response in some form; however, the opposition reveals itself in how we choose to respond to that initial thought. Amid chaos, we often lack insight of even having an opportunity to make a choice, feeling stuck in our patterns of reactivity. Increasing our mindful moments will heighten our ability to observe ourselves as separate from our thoughts, rather than accepting them as our truth. This is when the fruits of our mindfulness practice begin to blossom, as we awaken to the power of our thoughts that are consequently driving our actions.
A consistent mindfulness practice (maybe link this to How to Practice Mindfulness article) supports the ability to witness our inner dialogue, often presenting as negative self-talk and interpretations, habitual ways of thinking, and repetitive mind loops. These thought patterns precipitate increased feelings of worry which manifest outward into our perceived reality, as we continue responding to life from a fear-based state. When we attempt to dismiss or minimize the intensity of these feelings (often subconsciously), we relinquish our power in that moment to nurture ourselves with loving kindness. With mindfulness, we can quiet these unhelpful narratives simply by creating space to look inward without judgement, in turn releasing its stronghold. We can reduce our own suffering by returning to stillness which invites clarity, as opposed to reacting blindly to frantic energy that has nowhere to go.
When we start to recognize our contribution to our own suffering, we can begin to consider new alternatives. As quoted by the famous author Louisa May Alcott, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” As our practice strengthens, so will our relationship to our thoughts, as we naturally shift from a perspective of absolute fact towards a state of fluidity. We possess the power to consciously choose to focus our attention elsewhere, perhaps on our breath, allowing negative thoughts to pass without attaching to them. This awareness will promote a sense of trust in our ability to cope with the ebbs and flows of life as we strengthen our mind- body connection (maybe link this to previous article). As we enhance our ability to tune inward, so too will our acceptance grow of the things we cannot control; therefore, allowing us to go with the flow.