Are you or is someone you love a “nuclear reactor”? When living our lives on automatic pilot, we tend to react to emotions even before we are aware that we are experiencing them. Instead of thinking through a situation and responding wisely, the energy of our strong feelings overtakes us and we risk going “nuclear”.
Emotional reactivity often leads to unintended consequences. Unexamined anger, depression or anxiety can thwart our best laid plans, cause damage to relationships, and make us feel even worse in the long run. Things don’t tend to go as planned and we may find ourselves feeling guilty, disappointed, powerless, or resentful.
A mindfulness practice helps people develop a new relationship with internal experiences such as thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. We find we can slow down and be present in a given moment. We learn to observe with less judgment so that we can see things as they really are. We are able to distinguish actual data from assumptions, expectations, and emotional residue. Over time we cultivate greater awareness and make space for clearer thinking and smarter responding. With repetition, we become better able to cope with life’s difficulties. Best of all, the beneficial effects of this new way of being ripple out to others around us.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor E. Frankl
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a unique approach to learning to relate more skillfully with our internal experiences. It is an evidence based 8-week program that combines mindfulness training with cognitive behavior therapy strategies. Participants learn skills that help them decenter from painful emotions and respond with wisdom, thus avoiding the vicious cycle that often compounds suffering. If you are interested in learning more about MBCT, visit my MBCT page to explore the research and hear participants’ personal experiences.