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Melli O'Brien



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Responding Instead of Reacting

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Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

So Greek philosopher, Epictetus

once taught, "We are not disturbed

by what happens to us, but by our

thoughts about what happens to us."

And that's really true.

You know, when we judge and label the

events of our lives, we often react

to the judgments we have about what's

happening rather than simply being with

our direct experience just as it is.

So I'll give you a simple example.

Let's say you wake up one morning

and you look out your window

and you see rain coming down.

And then this thought comes

in this judgment that says,

Ugh, what a horrible day.

Now, is it true that the day is horrible?

Of course not.

It's just raining.

But if you buy into that thought,

you're very likely to experience

negativity, grumpiness, sadness.

But if you don't buy into that thought,

then you're free to be at peace just

to lay there, listening to the ring.

No problem, no negativity.

Now and we know that just like the

weather, the events of our lives

are also constantly changing.

They always will be.

We have gain, we have loss, we

have up, we have down new loves

and heartbreaks, pain pleasure,

praise, blame, success, and failure.

All of that is a normal part of the

richness and variety of being human.

But when we apply judgments and stories

to what happens, we're often yanked

around at the mercy of our reactions.

So the most basic mental judgments

we do are often liking and disliking.

For instance, when we judge

something or someone as good, nice.

Right, we're elated.

And we get attached to it.

When we judge something or

someone is bad, horrible, wrong,

we react with negative emotions.

So Shakespeare once said, "There's

nothing, either good nor bad,

but thinking makes it so."

That's also true.

And when we're able to realize this

truth, it means that we can learn to

respond to the ever changing circumstances

of our lives, non reactively, so that

we're not always emotionally thrown

around by the ups and downs of life.

Now that doesn't mean we can't

take action to change things.

We certainly can.

And on the contrary, we can

respond instead of reacting when

we're not caught up in reactivity.

So we can, we can take, you know,

more skillful, more empowered actions.

So in today's meditation, we're going

to be focusing on cultivating this

capacity to be non-reactive and more

rooted in presence and inner peace.

But in your daily life also,

you know, see if you can focus

on just laying aside judgments.

Especially the ones that label

things good and bad, right

and wrong, like and dislike.

And instead, just being curious

about what happens when you add no

story at all to whatever arises.

And instead, as best you, can

just be fully present with what

arises and respond when necessary

with the best of who you are.

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