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Reactivity that Stays for Days

You have cultivated enough self-awareness to know when you are stuck in a low level, but continuous state of reactivity.  You can name the associated thoughts, beliefs, body sensations, feelings, and needs and still there is no relief.  The reactivity sticks around for days despite all your efforts and you need a new approach.


What's helpful here is a clear and precise shift in attention - from a perspective of threat to a perspective of fundamental "okayness."  One of the tell tale signs of reactivity is the tendency to think in extremes.  This extreme thinking is typically unconscious.  It is usually a story about how you won't be okay; that you will die, be ostracized, be forever alone, found to be unlovable, or suffer in some extreme way.  It is this type of unchallenged thought that keeps the reactivity going.  


It's helpful if you can make this unconscious thinking, conscious, but not essential.  The main practice is to shift your attention to the felt sense that you are okay.  If you know the content of the extreme reactive thought, then you can be more precise about how you are okay (e.g., regarding safety, belonging, acceptance, love, comfort, …).  Accessing and then resting your attention on a felt-sense of being okay could be approached in a variety of ways.


With your body as a doorway to practice you might begin with a body scan and simply note all the ways your body is okay in the present moment.  With thinking as a doorway, you might think through how you would manage the worst case scenario; carefully visualizing how you would work your way through it and be okay.  With heart as a doorway you might begin by placing your hand on your heart and bring into awareness all the ways you enjoy offering love and care.


The key thing to remember about this practice is that the point is not to attempt to convince yourself that you will be okay.  Trying to mentally convince yourself of something is just another form of reactivity.  This practice is about accessing a knowing that lives fully in heart, body, and mind.  This knowing is present below the delusion of threat.  Once you begin to access a sense of "I am okay," rest your attention there.  Continue to hold your attention there while gently encouraging the sense of "okayness" to expand through your whole body.


Lastly, when you are not caught in reactivity, you can cultivate greater access to "okayness" for a future reactive you.  When things are going well meditate on the felt-sense of "okayness" and name for yourself all the ways you know that you are okay.


This practice outlined here is simple and may seem too simple.  The difficult part of this practice is not following the steps outlined above.  The challenge is to bring a wieldy and concentrated mind to those steps.  The power is in the quality of attention.


Practice

Take a moment right now to notice the felt-sense of "okayness".  How many different ways can you notice that you are okay right now?

 

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The Problem with Empathy


1 Response

  1. Oct 05, 2017
    Pam

    Not too simple at all, LaShelle. Clear and beautiful to me. And true.
    Thank you.

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